The Collections

Franklin Furnace: Performance and Politics

Franklin Furnace: Performance and Politics

Franklin Furnace: Performance and Politics, co-curated by Martha Wilson and Helaine Gawlica, is a collection of archival materials that represents the historical, cultural, and political legacy of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.  Spanning the last four decades, this collection brings together a selection of 41 works from Franklin Furnace's Event Archives that were produced, funded, or presented by the organization. These materials include moving images, primary sources, and other artifacts that together document the work of Franklin Furnace as a contemporary avant-garde art space in New York City. The organization is known for presenting artists who radically engage social agendas, making them vulnerable to institutional neglect, cultural bias, and mainstream censorship.

Selected from across the Americas, this collection features artists who confront sociopolitical issues through various practices—artists’ books, concrete poetry, literary performance, installation art, performance for the camera, cyberformance, and performance art. This archival body of materials centers on the important artworks of women, queer/trans folks, and people of color, who have been traditionally excluded from the historical record. These artists engage the politics of race, gender, and sexuality while forming new political imaginaries that challenge unjust social policies, violations of rights, and hegemonic power structures. Due to the transgressive nature of such works, many of the featured artists remain underrepresented in the art world. Artists at different stages in their careers are juxtaposed to produce new meanings, relationships, and conversations across generations. By historically preserving the works of these artists, the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library provides a space for such materials to live, perform, and engage political issues that are relevant today.

Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. was founded by Martha Wilson in 1976 to champion ephemeral art forms neglected by cultural institutions. Franklin Furnace's mission is to preserve, document, and present works of avant-garde art by artists from around the world. The organization annually awards grants to emerging artists, enabling them to produce new works in New York City. Franklin Furnace remains committed to advocating on behalf on avant-garde art, establishing the organization as a formidable contributor to art discourse for more than 41 years.

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