Tara Fatehi Irani, Guest Editor

An  image of an iranian mother and child, the artist's family, before rocks in a desert landscape.

Tara Fatehi Irani, Mishandled Archive, day 359, ‘Madonna of the Rocks’, 2017


Tara Fatehi Irani (b. 1987, Tehran) makes art, writes and performs. Her practice explores the ephemeral interactions between memories, words, bodies and sites and has grown through transnational collaborations with a range of artists, writers, choreographers and musicians recently including Karen Christopher, Pouya Ehsaei, Station House Opera and DARC. She has performed at the Royal Academy of Arts, SPILL Festival, Battersea Arts Centre, Nuffield Theatre (Lancaster), Toynbee Studios, RichMix, HighFest and Molavi Theatre amongst others. Her practice-as-research PhD (University of Roehampton, LADA, 2019) explores mishandling archives through multivocality, pyromania, mythology and web‑archaeography. In 2021, she will be resident artist at EoFA and the United Nations Archives at Geneva.

In Autumn 2020, LADA published Mishandled Archive, an "endlessly reflexive record of a year long performance ... [speaking to] diasporic experience, displacement and new modes of what might be called belonging" (Tim Etchells). Marking the publication of Mishandled Archive, Unbound has invited Tara to be our guest editor for January 2021.


[with closed eyes]

We say, ‘What the hell is going to happen?’, ‘What the hell are we to do?’.

They say, …


Tara has offered this text, guiding the reader on a fal through Unbound, turning to some of our titles to ask for guidance, direction and a remedy for uncertainty. These titles will be on sale until mid-February.

Shop Tara's Shelf


It’s now early 2021. I’m sitting in a bubble floating in the sky and at any moment my bubble might hit a building or a bird or a needle ... and explode … and I’ll fall buttdown on a pavement or in a forest but most probably a pavement. So much ‘Don’t know what’ll happen’, so much ‘What are we to do?’ in the air these days.

Iranians have a remedy for times of uncertainty, for when they don’t know what they should do, when they have a dilemma or when they’re about to start a new thing – like a new year – and they need transcendental guidance. They take fal-e Hafez. If I were to translate fal-e Hafez, it would be something like ‘Hafez Fortune Telling’ but this is not at all a good translation. So let me unpack this briefly: Hafez is the most popular Iranian poet amongst Iranians – he lived in the 14th century and wrote many ghazals which are poems on love, separation, reunion and the pain of it all. His major book is a collection of ghazals known as Divan-e Hafez. This book is in every Iranian’s home – when I recently told my family that I don’t have a Hafez at home, they were shocked, disappointed and almost offended. Anyway, to take a fal-e Hafez you would:


hold the Divan [the book, not the bed], its spine held by both your hands and the pages facing you. Set an intention in your mind – this is normally a question you want answered – and ask Hafez to guide you on what to do – for this stage you might even close your eyes. Then gently rub your fingers on the pages of the top edge trying to get a feel for which page has the answer to your problem. Slowly slide your fingers amongst the pages and open the book. First poem on the right-hand page is your fal. Read it and interpret it. The meaning is not always immediately evident. The interpretation, however subjective, becomes an art in itself.


When there was no pandemic and I could go to LADA, go to the Study Room or look at Unbound books in person, I would usually take a fal: randomly run my fingers through the shelves, get out a book and randomly open that to a page and spend some time with it. O’ touching random books with unsanitised hands.

But a good guest editor should not suggest a random list of books, should she? The books I’m listing here are carefully chosen – not by fal – along the intentionally ambiguous line of ‘Publications we need to see more of’. I’ve then taken a fal from each of them. Don’t you worry, I’ve set a joint intention on behalf of us all. I’ve asked the authors and editors of these wondrous books to tell me ‘What the hell is going to happen?’ and ‘What the hell are we to do?’. I’ve then ran my fingers along their pages to find our fal – alternatively where I didn’t have the book, I’ve asked friends to take the fal on my behalf. Here, I’ve extracted what I feel is the heart of the authors’ response – I will leave the interpretation to you. 


[with closed eyes]

We say, ‘What the hell is going to happen?’, ‘What the hell are we to do?’.

They say, …


Mishandled Archive* – Tara Fatehi Irani



19 °C

#dance: My fingers move gently in the air with the sound of the water. Perhaps similar to playing a soft harp. I raise my arms as I move the fingers: left goes further away from my body and to the left. Right is further out to the right. A bit like putting a spell on the waterfall statue… #IPutASpellOnYou #siteresponsive’ (p. 82)


* I’ve been invited to be Unbound guest editor on the occasion of the publication of this book. Call it cheeky or not, it’s kicking off the list. Mishandled Archive is made with the hope that it will move its readers – emotionally, conceptually and physically – in their bedroom, their house, or down the street. With 365 dance scores, there’s bound to be one that moves you. Ehem … there goes my plug.


re.act feminism: a performing archive* – Bettina Knaup and Beatrice Ellen Stammer (eds)


‘Irigaray: “The community will be composed of relations-between,

and not of one + one + one.”


Wait-with an act of political love,

Wait-with an action,

Wait-with a meditation,

Wait-with open space between actions,

Wait-with a space of resistance,

in this room, 

in this moment …’ (p. 74)


[From Faith Wilding, Wait-With, Unpublished manuscript found in Bettina Knaup’s Telling Stories Differently]

* Read this book in conjunction with the incredibly rich re.act feminism website.


The Bodies that Remain – Emmy Beber (ed)


‘Faces made for mouthwash commercials,

each around for long enough to sing,

“It’s black! It’s white!”

before morphing into other faces

made for shampoo commercials.

Nobody saw Michael Jackson morph

into any of these faces

but it seems possible.’ (p. 34)


[from David Rule, Be Michael Jackson]



Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh – Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh


‘Time clock to be punched 8,760 times for a period of one year…

April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January …’ (p.107)



After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life – Joshua Chambers-Letson


‘It is a lot for one body to bear this kind of burden, but in performance the burden is shared out amongst the many ...

(a brown woman) reaches to attain (and fails spectacularly to realize) the impossible, self-negating ideal of whiteness ...

She slowly rolls her body off the platform and into the audience.’ (p. xix)


[On Nao Bustamante’s performance, America the Beautiful]



Failed States: refuge – Jamie Atherton (ed)


‘Changing name is negotiating history, family, inheritance, but I’ve mostly thought of the spaces it opens up. I’m forty one years old and instead of consolidating my narrative I’ve dropped the thread. I’ve taken pleasure in not knowing how to introduce myself, stuttering between names. Pleasure in the moment of recognition when someone says this new name and I get to reply.’ (p. 101)


[From Every Ocean Hughes, Ocean]



Exercises for Rebel Artists: Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes


‘Asian/Russian (male or female) bride in search of tender Anglo husband. “Write your phone number on my body and persuade me you are the one”

“Authentic African queen” sitting on a throne while white men from the audience kneel and shine her boots or “tenderly wash her feet”

Arm wrestling with audience members (across race, gender, and class)’ (p. 162)



Epistemologies of the South: Justice against Epistemicide – Boaventura de Sousa Santos


‘Enlightened by the epistemologies of both blindness and seeing, it is possible to envisage the emergence of a prudent knowledge for a decent life, a knowledge that, by going from colonialism to solidarity, opens the space for a new kind of order, a noncolonialist or decolonial order bounding current experiences and expectations about the future, actions, and consequences. The ultimate aspiration is all too human, an aspiration that I call advanced normality: the aspiration to live in normal times whose normality does not derive from the naturalization of abnormality.’ (p. 163) 



Did you think we’ll finish without consulting Hafez himself? No. But – sorry mum – I don’t have a Hafez so I asked my friend Leila to take a fal for us. She asked Hafez ‘What the hell is going to happen?’, ‘What the hell are we to do?’. And here is a verse from the response:


‘I said, Did you see how times of joy came to end?

She said, Be quiet, Hafez. This grief will also end.’

(ghazal 231)



September 10, 2019

Special Offers › TOP PICKS ›

Dominic Johnson: Guest Editor

Dominic Johnson writes about live art and performance art and is based in the Department of Drama at Queen Mary University of London. He has written a number of books, including most recently Unlimited Action: The Performance of Extremity in the 1970s. In partnership with the Live Art Development Agency, he runs the MA Live Art programme, which welcomes its second cohort of students in September 2019. Dominic serves on LADA’s Board of Directors.

Dominic's selections are available at 20% discount until Thursday 3 October.



I’ve guest-edited a selection of Unbound titles along the theme of “Back to School”, which might mean it’s aimed at (university) students, as well as scholars returning to teaching (and research), as well as to anyone who feels the need to reconnect with thinking about histories and theories of live art and/or performance art. I struggled putting this list together: to limit a potentially vast list, I decided to exclude single-artist studies, and so include only books that seek some sort of cohesive, argument-driven approach to live art and performance art as a richly self-sufficient field. That said, I also left off books that are handbooks (like those of RoseLee Goldberg or Catherine Wood) as well as books that I assume everyone is constantly (and rightly) reminded to read, like José Munoz’s Disidentifications and Peggy Phelan’s Unmarked.


Amelia Jones, Body Art

The first book on my reading list is a classic of performance art studies by (to my eyes) the most influential (and prolific) scholar in the field: Amelia Jones’ Body Art / Performing the Subject. It arguably kickstarted the reinvention of a field of study in the 1990s, brought a series of key artists to light – like Carolee Schneemann, Yayoi Kusama, Hannah Wilke, Vito Acconci, and Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose – and introduced a series of key themes and ideas, including particularity and contingency in the construction of meaning. Body Art can be a demanding text, but a close, slow reading of it yields many insights that are politically tantalizing: especially Jones’s dethroning of critical distance, her refiguring of phenomenology as a tool for reading bodies, and her celebration of intersubjectivity as ‘chiasmic intertwining.’ It’s a thrilling, sometimes maddening ride – one that must be mastered in order to understand everything that came after it. If it holds back its lusciousness, it compensates with sheer force of thinking.



Adrian Heathfield, Live: Art and Performance

Live: Art and Performance is a beautiful, strange, and engaging book. It was one of the outcomes of the iconic live art exhibition Live Culture at Tate Modern in March 2003, and both showcases the key artists and scholars who participated in the event – as performers and as speakers in the hugely important symposium, and also expands to give a broad and incisive characterization of live art as a vibrant and challenging field of practice. There are plenty of essays I still turn to, including Heathfield’s introduction and chapters by Amelia Jones (comprehensive), Franko B (polemical), Guillermo Gómez-Peña (strident) and Matthew Goulish (psychedelic). It’s full of beautiful images too – including Hugo Glendinning’s wonderful documentation of Live Culture – and so is also a good book to flick through.



Jennifer Doyle, Hold It Against Me

Hold It Against Me is a modern classic. Jennifer Doyle is not only one of our most incisive theorists of performance and art, she’s also the most seductive and louche writer. Doyle gives us a set of tools with which to overcome our foibles – squeamishness, conservatism or benignity of taste – to allow us to appreciate more pungently that which gives us pause, including strong images and excessive actions. Her embrace of “difficulty” as a positive value is transformative. The opening section on Adrian Howells is a masterclass in thinking critically about our own (conscious and unconscious) impulses in what we see, enjoy, avoid, or miss in our encounters with performance and art.



Deirdre Heddon and Jennie Klein, ed., Histories and Practices of Live Art

This edited collection is a good primer for critical studies of live art in the UK. It was the first study of its kind, and it’s a welcome antidote to the broader American-centric tendency in the study of performance art. The book takes a thematic approach and includes studies of a wide range of artists in terms of key ideas including time and temporality, action, intimacy and risk, collaboration, institutionality, and the politics of Live Art.



Thomas DeFrantz and Anita Gonzalez, Black Performance Theory

 The study of live art and performance art has not been strong in its general inclusivity and diversification, especially beyond repeated analyses of a small coterie of artists of colour who recur with ritual inevitability across key studies. This book blows that tendency out of the water, in part by demonstrating that the study of live art in isolation does a disservice to a broader and more inclusive analysis of different experimental practices. One of the wonderful chapters in this book is Tavia Nyongo’s wild study of Little Richard, who ends up looking like a pioneering live art hero: Nyongo’s analysis sets a new standard for how to write about (to celebrate and to critique) figures who don’t quite fit the disciplinary frames through which we seek to understand as well as to value our objects of study (and of desire).



Meiling Cheng, Beijing Xingwei

Beijing Xingwei is the touchstone study of performance art in China – a site of much of the most exciting, transgressive, excessive art of the last three decades. Cheng theorises two trends: xingwei-yishu (performance art) and xingwei-zhuangzhi (performance installation). Her study is encyclopaedic, and both describes and analyses works that are often frankly staggering, while also situating the perceived excesses of Beijing xingwei in the geopolitical situation in China in the 1980s and 1990s, the development of an art market, and the rise and fall of the Beijing East Village. Cheng is also a brilliant, compelling, profound writer – aspects of the book approach a kind of performance fictocriticism to make sense of art works involving constitutively disturbing encounters between human and non-human animals, and the living and the dead.



Amy Bryzgel, Performance Art in Eastern Europe

Bryzgel’s book is incredibly comprehensive, borne out of extensive and unprecedented research. Those of us who have been following live art and performance art over the last twenty years, our interests have been magnetically drawn to Eastern and Central Europe, where much of the most politically and aesthetically brilliant work has taken place – often in vibrant and incredibly risky grassroots festivals. National contexts like Poland, Croatia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have seen the most focused development of action-based performance , interventionist art, and relational aesthetics, and the more formally austere end of live art and performance art more broadly. Bryzgel does a standout job of cataloguing a vast array of such practices, including in countries that aren’t typically well represented in our understanding of histories of live art and performance art, including Ukraine, Belarus, Kosovo and Albania. This book is an important reminder of the need for Anglo-American scholarship to widen the net of its awareness beyond Western Europe. (It’s also a good way of remembering that Marina Abramović didn’t emerge mythically and self-sufficiently from a vacuum!)



Joshua Chambers-Letson, After the Party

After the Party is both a critical study of contemporary performance and visual art by artists of colour, as well as an elegy of sorts – namely, a remembrance of and a reckoning with the legacy of the late José Esteban Muñoz. Chambers-Letson’s encounters with art as prompts for both theoretical and confessional writing is virtuosic. He also allows performance art (by, say, Nao Bustamante) to intersect with works of sculpture (Danh Vō) or dance (Eiko and Koma) or photography (Tseng Kwong Chi). The effects of his writing are both intimate and loving, as well as politically incisive, allowing Chambers-Letson – or, more acutely, the works in question – to reveal and perhaps to intervene in situations of grave danger, terminal inequity, systemic violence, rampant “financialization” (of art, human potential, and interpersonal relations) as well as personal grief. If this makes his book sound maudlin, it’s not: it’s grief-stricken but strident, and a call to each of us to persist in strange and incorrigible ways – a call for “[a] collective attempt to survive conditions of negation and annihilation.”



Amber Jamila Musser, Sensual Excess

Sensual Excess is the most recent – and the most lushly written – of my selections. Musser does at least two things that I find exciting and alluring: firstly, she writes with a verve that is totally seductive and gripping; and her case studies are surprising and canon-busting. Her book includes chapters on performance artists including Nao Bustamante, Patty Chang, Xandra Ibarra (La Chica Boom) and Amber Hawk Swanson, as well as visual artists such as Mickalene Thomas, Carrie May Weems, and Maureen Catbagan. Musser’s argument is that artists of colour have embraced sensuality and sexuality in performance to rewrite the codes of how intersections of sex and race are represented, towards what she calls revelatory performances of “brown jouissance”: “a reveling in fleshiness, its sensuous materiality that brings together pleasure and pain”. This book is vibrant, corporeal, and idiosyncratic.



Dominic Johnson, Art of Living

I added this as a cheeky addendum of sorts. The obvious indignity of my including it is offset by the fact that – as an oral history – most of the words in it are those of others: of esteemed and beloved interlocutors like Ron Athey, Sheree Rose, Anne Bean, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Ulay, the late Adrian Howells, and others. It’s conversational and therefore highly readable, and a good introduction if you’re nervous of getting stuck into the weightier, more scholarly books I’ve listed above. Let it be a gateway to the more sustained analysis provided in each of the other books I’ve suggested.


Guest Editor, Andy Field

Guest Editor Sale from 1 July 2017 - 31 July 2017

Andy Field is an artist, writer and the co-director of Forest Fringe.

Let’s change the world
Yeah! Let’s change the world
Not a little (a little)
A lot (a lot!)
Let’s change the world
Yeah! Let’s change the world
(‘Let’s Change the World’, traditional) 

About seven years ago I was on the campus of Warwick University, just outside Coventry, for an event hosted by Fierce Festival and Warwick Arts Centre. As part of this event an artist called Eitan Buchalter waited at a zebra crossing for four hours. I remember very vividly his calmness and his neatness, arms by his side, gazing out across the street, like a young mathematics teacher who had lost himself in the middle of a quadratic equation and slipped quietly into a fugue state. The sun shone thinly on the neat green lawns and the childlike bends in the tiny campus roads.

Inevitably as cars would arrive at the zebra cross they would pause for a few seconds, anticipating that Eitan was about to cross, and on realising that he was not going anywhere, they would move on. Some would occasionally beep as if attempting to wake him from his trance or chastise him for his transgression of the traditional etiquette of zebra crossings. It was so beautifully tiny, his action, so delicately fleeting; like a bird flying backwards. A hiccup in an otherwise ordinary afternoon.

For one man, however, it was not such a small indiscretion. One man was furious. He shouted at Eitan, questioning what he was doing and why he was doing it, and on receiving no response he took it upon himself to right the miniature wrong that had been inserted into the day, shouting at cars as they stopped that it was ‘an art thing’ and that they shouldn’t stop. ‘What a waste of time’ he said, repeatedly. ‘He could be out raising money for homeless people.’

Since that day I have often wondered what it was that so provoked the furious man. Was it, as he would have it, the uselessness of the action, its essential meaninglessness when placed against other possible things that Eitan could have chosen to do with his time, like raising money for homeless people? In this context, it is the choice of action that is so egregious. Eitan clearly has dedication and endurance, and yet he is employing them in pursuit of something the furious man perceives as without purpose or outcome. Why choose to do something as indulgent and inconclusive as art when there is so much suffering in the world?

Or is there another possible cause of the furious man’s ire? Could it be that it is not the ineffectuality of Eitan’s performance that is upsetting him but on the contrary, its very effectiveness? How easily Eitan is able to send these ripples of disruption out into the world, his mere motionlessness stopping traffic, his small transgression unstitching the unspoken rules that hold the world together. Is this what the furious man is afraid of, that far from being useless, art is a virus with the power to topple civilisations?

Here are some books that I think might help us to resolve these questions. For the month of July 2017, these have all been discounted by 25%

The Art Of Living: An Oral History - Book CoverThe Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art
Dominic Johnson
£16.49 / Original Price £21.99
These extraordinary lives are holding open space in which to re-imagine gender, identity, the way we relate to one another and the way we live in the world.

The Interventionists - Book Cover

The Interventionists
Eds. Nato Thompson, Gregory Sholette
£18.71 / Original Price £24.95
A catalogue of strategies for resistance.

Vacuum Days - Book Cover

Vacuum Days
Tim Etchells
£14.25 / Original Price £19
A document of a project that spanned a remarkable year and in so doing became implicitly bound up in the strangeness, to the point where it seemed Tim Etchells might be writing the world into existence. 

Out of Now - Book Cover
Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh
Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh
£24 / Original Price £32.95
In Out of Now art becomes a vehicle for radical transformation, a rewriting of a life that is nothing short of remarkable.

Not if but when: Culture Beyond Oil - Book Cover
Not if but when: Culture Beyond Oil
Eds. Jo Clarke, Mel Evans, Hayley Newman, Kevin Smith, Glen Tarman
Free PDF Online
If Art can be a vehicle for social change, then it must also recognise its frequent culpability in perpetuating capitalism and ecological harm, as in the toxic ongoing relationship between art and oil.

Gardens Speak - Book Cover
Gardens Speak
Tania El Khoury
£9 / Original Price £12
Tania is an extraordinary artist and this piece is the best example I can point to of the potential for the tangibility of live performance to change the way we relate to geopolitics and mediatized suffering.

Cassils - Book Cover
Cassils: Artist Books
David J. Getsy and Julia Steinmetz
£23.63 / Original Price £31.50
Cassils’ work is doing something in the world.

4 Boys [For Beuys] - Book Cover
4 Boys [For Beuys]
The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home
£3 / Original Price £4
The Institute is a remarkable example of an activist practice that is deeply embedded in ordinariness of everyday life, they are a map to another kind of resistance.

It's All Allowed - Book Cover
It's All Allowed: The Performances of Adrian Howells
Eds. Deirdre Heddon & Dominic Johnson
£15 / Original Price £20
Adrian brought so much beauty and compassion into the world and I miss him very much.

Theaster Gates - Book Cover
Theaster Gates
Eds. Carol Becker, Lisa Yun Lee, Achim Borchardt-Hume
£22.46 / Original Price £29.95
In the info for this book Theaster Gates is described as "The poster boy for socially engaged art" and it makes me want to be sick a bit in my mouth, but you should read this book anyway.

Not Just a Mirror - Book Cover
Not Just a Mirror: Looking for the Political Theatre of Today
Ed. Florian Malzacher
£8.24 / Original Price £10.99
There is so much in this book you will definitely find something to cling to, and something to hope for.

Forest Fringe - Book Cover
Forest Fringe: The First Ten Years
Forest Fringe
£10.50 / Original Price £14
This is our book. You should buy our book

Guest Editor, Robert Daniels

Guest Editor Sale from 1 May 2017 - 31 May 2017

Robert Daniels is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at The University of Chichester, and leads on their MA in Performance (Theatre/Theatre Collectives) programme. He's also joint Artistic Director of Bootworks Theatre, and author of DIY and DIY Too (available on Unbound).

"Imagine we're in an over-emphatic, jubilantly ecstatic, evangelical event... you know, the kind that's equally at home in an opulent stone and glass palace as it is a conference centre, stadium or tent... all singy-dancey, and full of ecstasy and hysteria.

... the one where the frail old lady with arthritis shuffles up to the stage. The preacher, all maroon-faced, sweaty and shiny - with as much pomp and majesty as he can muster - lays his hands upon her head, screams instructions (to a ‘something’: not-in-the-room, but sort-of floating above), and squarely punches her into the arms of expectant, immaculately suited, assistants. The crowd swoons. People faint. The ‘demon’ has been 'released'.

Next week she'll shuffle up to the stage and ask the preacher to cure her whiplash.

This is what I think of when I imagine a lot of (mainstream) “Theatre”: masses of people blindly, dogmatically, following an orthodox (and more often than not, some kind of guru), willfully stepping up to get smacked down... replacing one pain with another. Supposing that this is all some kind of miracle cure, and trampling on any heathen that thinks or says (or does) differently. Same goes for “Art”, “Live Art”, “Dance”… whatever your poison. Same shit different day. I dislike reverence. I dislike obtuse and esoteric ‘theory’, and fluffy notions of ‘purity; or ‘truth’ in a lot of discourse (in/with ‘the Arts’ in particular).

Don't misunderstand me though, my analogy to religious evangelicalism is not obtuse. Or particularly rebuking. I'm agnostic, so I do believe in having faith. For me, there's simply something about it all that reminds me of the witticism (variously attributed to Einstein, Franklin and Twain) that "insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.”, and I think this true of the way in which our ‘Arts’, cultural industries, the academy, and arts ecology have dawdled their way into a state of such inadequacy and imbalance.

… Ok… I’ve perhaps started this a little over-emphatically myself. Let me explain… you see, as an ‘academic’ (as well as an artist) I’ve had to read a look of books. That’s all. And I’m just often surprised (and fairly bored) with wave after mutual-masturbatory wave of reverence and platitudes towards artists and work - when (because of said reading) I’ve seen it all before. Too many books - too - are rolled out and waste trees on the same old boring people and subjects too.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with all this per se - some work/ideas (etc.) needs to be repeated (and sometimes it’s ‘better’ too) - but I just feel too often that despite apparently working in a much-better-than-before ecology of the arts, I’m constantly in need of reminding myself of the difference between what I’m ‘supposed’ to like, and what I actually like. Or, what is ‘good’ and what is actually ‘good’.

That’s one of the reasons I often use LADA and Unbound as a resource: it gives space and voice to a lot of stuff I’ve not seen or heard of before (or rather: a range of work I think should be seen and heard of more).

As a maker, I recognise I’m also courting a certain kind of scrutiny at my own work. The kind you might get if you’re a maker and also a ‘reviewer’ of other’s work (which I’ve also done). Let’s be clear: in no way am I claiming to be an iconoclast or something ‘better’… I just don’t like doing or believing in things ‘just because’, and I don’t like it if I can’t get my hands dirty and have a go at something ‘new’, or ‘different’… or perhaps just the same, just on my own terms.

My interest in "DIY" (performance) is especially rooted in this predicament. I’m drawn to the notion (and ethics and symbolic metaphor) of doing it oneself: crafting, learning, teaching, sharing, giving, making, experiencing… finding another way… working it out… and so on.

All these, for me, are highly political things to do too. Live Art and contemporary performance have a rich history of this kind of thinking and doing.

"DIY" might suggest isolationist positions but this is a simplistic (mis)understanding. The majority of everything I do as an artist or teacher is with others... directly (as in my relationship to my collaborators in Bootworks) or tacitly (as a teacher in HE). My books are an attempt to make sense of nearly 20 years of doing it ‘myself’, and helping others to do the same. They, also, give space to a range of Art makers and doers (emerging and established) to share, articulate, and promote their practices. In Bootworks, we embrace a sense of partnership with our audiences, with much of our work built around structures for co-authorship, interaction and participation. As a teacher - despite my role as 'authority' and leader - I'm often making and learning with my students... or at least helping them to make and learn.

DIY is - for me - about independence. The joy and reward of doing it with my own hands, for better or worse, and the physical feeling of having crafted and made something, from kit or from scratch. Books are still the most crucial places in which I learn to do things myself. They are almost always more reliable than the Internet (but the Internet is also good… just saying).

The unread/read ratio of my own book collection is about 60/40. I just keep getting them... adding them to the pile... admiring them. I have a bit of a fetish. Of the 40% read, most are re-read, and routinely referred to and used. These are my favourite kinds of books: ones you can use. Not as a doorstop (sometimes as a doorstop)... but as a teacher, and maker: to feed, instruct, inspire, stimulate… and sometimes as evidence, reason, purpose, context and to better understand what has come before, and what is yet to come.

Therefore my focus, as this month’s guest editor is on books that share practice and promote making: books and editions that try to articulate practice, and some artist-made books. Most index DIY, some don’t, but elaborate or underpin some of the work I do. Books by people that “DIY”, books that helps others “DIY”, and books that are (have been) “DIY”. I’ll only promote the ones I actually have too… without a doubt there are many on Unbound that are great, but I’ve not seen or got yet… but seeing as my own work is rooted in contemporary theatre/performance and that’s still an under-represented area in book form, I’ll also give a little focus to the companies, artists and collectives like my own, currently stocked on Unbound."

PLAYING UP: A Live Art Game for Kids and Adults

PLAYING UP: A Live Art Game for Kids and Adults
Sibylle Peters
£9 / Original Price £12

Without a doubt one of the most important resources available for Live Art and young people IN THE WORLD. This edition should be a continued resource, updated and added to. I only actually got it just because I missed out on getting a coveted copy of LADA’s The Performance Pack… which I’m still searching for… but when I unwrapped and read it I realised I’d accidentally bought my favourite resource of last year. Expansion packs LADA?

The Many Headed Monster

The Many Headed Monster
Joshua Sofaer
£26.25 / Original Price £35

A great resource. Some more books coming out/already out on space/site/audience contexts, but none as performative, and as well designed and packaged as this.

Richard Dedomenici Is Still An Artist

Richard Dedomenici Is Still An Artist
Richard Dedomenici
£3.75 / Original Price £5

I must recommend this little beauty of a book. I didn’t actually get it from Unbound, I found it in a (particular Bristol gallery) shop. I’m always on the lookout for little books like this (see Sheila Ghelani’s book also listed below) and think they’re just the best thing. I like this one in particular because it’s playful, interesting, and simple, just like Richard ;) x

Gob Squad, Do It Yourself

Gob Squad, Do It Yourself
Gob Squad
£18.75 / Original Price £25 

Because you should… always. This DVD is a really well designed and packaged filmed workshop of their general practice. I thought before I watched it that I would get insight into the genius of their work… because they are without a doubt one of my absolute favourite collectives… what I got was something grounded in simplicity and a play-through of some (for me) very ‘usual’ exercises. I like them more for demystifying themselves.

Gob Squad and the Impossible Attempt to Make Sense of it All

Gob Squad and the Impossible Attempt to Make Sense of it All
Gob Squad
£8.25 / Original Price £11

Lovely binding. Delicate. Great design. A little repetitive, but that’s kind of the point: well-known works are brought up and discussed through the book and you notice little changes each time as it continues… as if repeating the story over and over makes them tell it better. It does. What a lovely book.

The Making of a Memory

The Making of a Memory
Gob Squad
£9.75 / Original Price £13

I love the fact that this book allows and incorporates reflections and recalled memories that might not be actually true… I like Gob Squad, OK? They’re fucking heroes.

A Choreographer's Handbook

A Choreographer's Handbook
Jonathan Burrows
£14.24 / Original Price £18.99

I’m always reminding myself (and my students) of Burrows’ confession that the worst piece he made was when he tried too hard to make a piece of ‘experimental dance’, and ended up “making a piece about making a piece”. I feel you, Jonathan…. too often.

A Mis-Guide to Anywhere

A Mis-Guide to Anywhere
Eds. Wrights and Sites
£7.50 / Original Price £10

THE template for making site specific/responsive/generic (whatever your site relationship/connection) work. When I talk about wanting books I can ‘use’, I mean ones like this especially.

A Sardine Street Box of Tricks

A Sardine Street Box of Tricks
Crab Man and Signpost
£5.63 / Original Price £7.50

This book was the template for our 30 days to Edinburgh project. A perfectly simple and frank account of working with/in “the street”. Phil Smith writes in such a way that makes acute, obtuse theory seem completely easy to understand. This book breaks things down for the maker in clearly understood ways, weaving anecdote, and personal experience with argument and critical insight. A writer that knows what he’s on about not because he’s read all the books, but because he’s got the bloody t-shirt.

Rambles with Nature

Rambles with Nature
Eds Sheila Ghelani and Divya Ghelani
£7.50 / Original Price £10

This is a gorgeous little book. A performance in literary form. An example of a self-made book that is just as carefully crafted, and brilliantly written/devised, as the work they make.

Forest Fringe: The First Ten Years

Forest Fringe: The First Ten Years
Forest Fringe
£10.50 / Original Price £14

What should be stocked is Forest’s Paper Stages books… but this will more than do… Forest are hugely important to me and Bootworks, as they were (are) the only place that could give our niche work space at the EdFringe. Artist-led, and not-just-for-artists, they blaze trails - still - for independent/alternative work to exist and thrive at the biggest arts market in the world.

Certain Fragments

Certain Fragments
Tim Etchells
£20.99 / Original Price £27.99

Why is this book still relevant? It’s like 20 years old for Christ’s sake! Well, it IS still relevant. And so are Forced Entertainment… completely essential reading. When this book came out I was an undergrad, and there was literally only Oddey’s “Devising Theatre” book that gave an account of making (devised theatre). Not a single word or point in Certain Fragments feels out of date (whereas Oddey’s book… need I say more!). This book will last forever. I hope. A fucking BIBLE for students of theatre and performance making.

Exercises for Rebel Artists

Exercises for Rebel Artists
Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes
£14.99 / Original Price £19.99

Near the end there’s a list of ‘rules’, one of them goes something like: “respect and revere your elders, then kill them ritualistically”… need I say more? From what I learned as a student about his practice and works, I expected Gomez-Pena to be an uber-radical, flamboyant and aggressive artist. When I met him, he was soft-voiced, generous with his time and thought, completely absorbing, and beautifully kind. This book is about as generous as you can get when it comes to sharing your practice.

Good Luck Everybody: Lone Twin

Good Luck Everybody: Lone Twin
Eds. David Williams and Carl Lavery
£25.13 / Original Price £33.50

“If you can’t say what you’re doing in one sentence, then you shouldn’t do it.” So they say. Or something like that. If only more artists tried this mantra. A superb account and ‘theorising’ of one of the best art-duo’s in the UK. If only we all had people like Carl Lavery and David Williams writing about us… or just Carl and David (absolutely stunning academics!). Exceptionally lucid and rigorous writing… perfectly easy on the eyes too.

All Work and No Plays: Blueprints for Nine Theatre Performances by Ontroerend Goed

All Work and No Plays: Blueprints for Nine Theatre Performances by Ontroerend Goed
Ontroerend Goed
£15 / Original Price £20

This is surely the best current template for articulating and ‘scripting’ contemporary devised performance out there: their work always feels ‘young’ (and while the company generally are, the directors, I know, are not)… and in that sense of ‘youth’ one feels something beautiful. The kind of spirit only young work and artists can have: raw, honest, precarious, idealistic, and bombastic. Bloody glorious. This book gives ‘ingredients’, ‘recipe’ and script for all their work to date. And it is absolutely fascinating.

Action Plans: Selected Performance Pieces

Action Plans: Selected Performance Pieces
Action Hero
£11.24 / Original Price £14.99

Seeing their work in ‘script’ form is weird. So much of what Gemma and James do - for me - is purely about the ‘event’ experience and liveness. I LOVE watching them perform. Their ideas are super-fucking-cool, and I like their process too. Seeing them play with the format of how their work can be documented and presented in such a holistic and practical way is completely brilliant.

The Forest and the Field

The Forest and the Field
Chris Goode
£11.24 / Original Price £14.99

Chris’ book came out just after mine. I remember trying to make a spat about Peter Brook’s Empty Space, but never really having the balls - or vocabulary - to properly break it down. Then I read his SUPERB deconstruction… and I just wanted to have his literary babies… lovely writing. His podcast should be on your iThingy too.

Schoolbook 2

Schoolbook 2
Goat Island
£7.50 / Original Price £10

Basically, if you don’t own this, you should. Period. It’s full of tasks and practical insight. And if you’re one of the lucky few people who actually have a copy of Schoolbook 1 I will literally do ANYTHING you want for it.

Here's to another 10

Here's to another 10
£5.24 / Original Price £6.99

LOW PROFILE are great. This book is great. Seriously. This is a great example of how (and why) indie sector makers should document and articulate their body of work. LOW PROFILE are also brilliant makers and people. A great example of artists who didn’t have to suck London’s cock in order to make it. Their individual and collective practice is diverse and difficult to label, but I’ll always look to them as examples of artists that holistically empower, serve and drive their local community, and relationship to the public. I’ve said ‘great’ a lot. I feel like I’m writing a Donald Trump speech. Not that his speeches are ‘written’. More like a crayon spewed up by a cat.

Invisible Things

Invisible Things
Fevered Sleep
£13.49 / Original Price £17.99
A simple and original way to document and articulate practice, and one’s work. The different page types, paper stock, and non linear arrangement: it satisfies all my artist-book desires. They’re a great company, with some epically beautiful work. It’s great that the design allows them to speak about and articulate their work in multiple perspectives, keeping the vocabularies and languages neat, while letting them overlap, literally.

Perform Every Day

Perform Every Day
Joshua Sofaer
£9 / Original Price £12

I love/hate this book. A massive tome considering its physical content, with lots of empty space… but I think that’s the point. Superbly simple, and accessible. If Keri Smith wrote a book on Live Art, it would probably be something like this.

The Dust Archive

The Dust Archive
Alexander Kelly and Annie Lloyd
£11.25 / Original Price £15

What a wonderfully perfect book/idea this is. Its premise and concept is so gloriously simple, and its result so perfectly succinct and cogent. You know that cliché rule in theatre making: “don’t just say it, show it”… this is a book that does just that.

and if you’re rich enough, go buy ALL of Forced Entertainment’s, Gob Squad’s, and Blast Theory’s DVDs.

Finally though… simply because they’re FREE - FREE GODDAMMIT:


The Free University of Liverpool

Splat! The Adventures of Little Bitch: Part One

Splat! The Adventures of Little Bitch: Part One
The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein and Alethea Raban

Guest Editor, Andrea Pagnes

Guest Editor Sale from 1 March 2017 - 31 March 2017

We are introducing a series of guest editors for our Unbound Newsletters. Each editor will write about how titles we stock on Unbound have informed, inspired and shaped their creative practice and select titles on artists that have specifically influenced them. These titles will be offered at a discount for that month. 

Andrea Pagnes, artist, performer and writer at VestAndPage (with Verena Stenke), and founder of the Live Art exhibition project Venice International Performance Art Week (VIPAW) has chosen 14 titles which offer an insight into some of the artists that have participated live and/or exhibited in the three editions of VIPAW. These exclusive and related publications are an address to all those who wish to know more about the art and life of these incredible artists.

"When I perform, I usually search for my inner silence. I balance the images passing through my mind and try that rhythm in action when I write about performance. However, after reading books on performance art by other authors, essays, and monographs on artists which are so dear to me and inspirational for my work, I feel that those words, photos and sketches accompany me in the experience of living in slow motion, while the world outside speeds without stopping. I see a page of a book as the access key to know more, in depth, and understand different things and perspectives – a place at the edge of the quotidian, right there to host me, when I am at a crucial point in my life, looking for that “which" to start again. I think it's always wise to feel part of a place, a subject, a part of a present, which is already past but renewed when it is acknowledged. This is also such stuff as books are made on." Andrea Pagnes, February 2017

Read Andrea's thoughts on each title below.

Stelarc A Monograph
Ed. Marquard Smith
£14.96 / Original Price £19.95
Suspensions, robotic research, obsolescence of the human body. Still the most comprehensive tool to acquaint the exceptional artistic path of one of the most experimental performance art masters ever.

Bas Jan Ader: Death is Elsewhere
Bas Jan Ader: Death is Elsewhere
Alexander Dumbadze
£14.62 / Original Price £19.50
"Have you heard of happiness, springing from a deep well of sorrow? Of love, springing from pain and despondency, agony and death? Such is mine." (BJA)

Alexander Dumbadze, with his engaging, compelling style of art writing delivers a complete insight navigating across the romantic aura and the refined conceptualism of one of the most sensitive artists of our time.

Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey
Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey
Ed. Dominic Johnson
£10 / Original Price £22.50


Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance
Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance
Ron Athey (DVD)
£12 / Original Price £16
'Volo ut sis', said St. Augustine about love and therefore existence: 'I want you to be who you are'. Without trying to change you and not trying to change me to please you.

These two outstanding titles are “a must have” to understand in depth Ron Athey, both the man and the artist, crystalline in his courage, ideas, and beliefs which he has always professed in his art without compromise.

I Still Love
I Still Love
Franko B
£26.25 / Original Price £35
Curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti at PAC (Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea of Milan), this is the catalogue raisonné of the first exhibition dedicated to Franko in an Italian public exhibition space. Looking at his works, I cannot help but think about a sentence of Jean Luc Nancy from his essay L’Intrus (2002): “To isolate death from life – not leaving each one intimately woven into the other, with each one intruding upon the other’s core (coeur) – this is what one must never do.” As Heraclitus put, here it is not just a matter of making the unbearable bearable, but that to love is also to live the other’s death, and dying the other’s life. And this is also the great lesson of Franko.

Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh
Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh
Adrian Heathfield and Tehching Hsieh, 
£18.75 / Original Price £25
For all the ones that want to know why “You have to make art stronger than life so people can feel it” (TH) the exhaustive volume on the legendary Taiwanese master compiled by Adrian Heathfield gives you the reason.

Orlan: A Hybrid Body of Artworks
ORLAN: A Hybrid Body of Artworks
Simon Donger with Simon Shepherd and ORLAN,
£17.99 / Original Price £23.99
A book of a different kind that contains a series of texts collected in an apparent unruly way, but for this, however is rigorous and mostly passionate. The fascinating analysis of ORLAN’s seminal practice is rendered through exciting ideas that overlap and help us to explore and dissect her complex universe.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Conversations Across Borders

Guillermo Gómez-Peña: Conversations Across Borders
Ed. Laura Levin
£21 / Original Price £28 


Homo Fronterizus: Recent performance video works, 2008-2011
Homo Fronterizus: Recent performance video works, 2008-2011
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (DVD)
£16.88 / Original Price £22.50
Guillermo is one of the brightest thinker, vate, activist and performer of our contemporaneity. His words are profound, humorous, poetic, uncompromised, rhythmic, and mercilessly truthful. His performances are hymns to life and a call to keep position against hypocrisy and injustice.
Exercises for Rebel Artists
Exercises for Rebel Artists
Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Roberto Sifuentes, 
£14.99 / Original Price £19.99
Anytime we give a performance art workshop, we offer this book to read to our participants.
Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability
Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability
Eds. Lois Keidan and CJ Mitchell
£13.13 / Original Price £17.50
Then one day we find out not to be perfect, to fight against a disease, to grow up and grow old differently. The performer is not an actor. S/he doesn’t interpret nor represent but purely s/he puts her/himself face to face with the other. Author of his every action and very own thought, s/he’s authentic and sincere for s/he always acts only him/herself. Poetry, courage and beauty often occur more readily in difficult places, in segregated bodies made silent from pain, becoming expression of a deeper self. Transforming the terrible into the sublime or more simply indicating if as a quality of the real, the performer questions and makes us think upon existence, to reconcile us with life through art.

Hold It Against Me
Hold It Against Me
Jennifer Doyle
£12.74 / Original Price £16.99
Finally an authorial fierce book unpacking the importance of feelings and emotions in contemporary art and performance, which the too arid conceptual (male) driven art discourses have purposely avoided for decades.

The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art
The Art of Living: An Oral History of Performance Art
Dominic Johnson
£16.49 / Original Price £21.99
How to question and tell of performance art?
Dominic Johnson’s skill and sensibility in asking penetrating questions to 12 performers on their own practice, how to introduce them precisely to the reader with a poignant overview on their works, makes of this book also an instrument for anyone who wish to learn or refined how to approach write and narrate of performance matters.

Manuel Vason
£7.50 / Original Price £10
A volume that contains some of the most beautiful performances images ever taken, born from the dedicated collaboration between Manuel Vason, artist and photo-performer, and several performance artists. Still hard to choose which is my favourite picture.

Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage)

Unbound Seasonal Sale 2016

Credits: Katy Baird, Alex Eisenberg and Drew Cole. A LADA Production (2016)

25% discount on all books and DVDs in the Unbound Seasonal Sale. Pick up the perfect Christmas present for your Live Art loved ones, or treat yourself this winter. 

Last orders for UK delivery before Christmas must be placed by Midday on Monday 19 December. Delivery dispatches start again on Thursday 5 January. No deliveries will be dispatched between Midday Monday 19 December and Thursday 5 January.

Sale ends Saturday 14 January. 

Unbound Seasonal Advert 2016 from LADA - Live Online on Vimeo.

Lois Keidan talks about Unbound's 10th Anniversary

Unbound is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2016 and it's fascinating to look back on shifts and developments in Live Art publishing and distribution that have taken place since 2006.

Although LADA were partners on two exceptional publications in 2002 (Manuel Vason’s Exposures) and 2004 (Adrian Heathfield’s Live: Art and Performance), we only became publishers ourselves in 2006 when we embarked on Programme Notes Volume One. Since then we have published over 100 books, DVDs, Box Sets and Editions, including our own publications, artists’ publications, and co-publications with major publishing houses including the Intellect Live series in collaboration with Intellect Books. And we are not alone. In recent years, in response to heightened public interest, expanding areas of scholarly research, new archival initiatives, and developments in technology and online platforms there has been a relative explosion in Live Art publishing.

Unbound reflects these developments. When we launched Unbound in 2006 we sold around 50 titles and we now stock over 300. We originally set up Unbound on the advice of Adrian Heathfield partly as a one stop shop for all thing Live Art, and partly as a form of advocacy for this constantly evolving and expanding area of practice that was increasingly generating new forms of thinking and writing about art and new ways of looking at performance.

We’ve always approached Unbound as a curated site in terms of the titles we sell, the way users can navigate through different themes, and the contextualising materials we offer. Although we do sell many books by major publishing houses, at the heart of Unbound are independent, artist led books, hard-to-find publications, DVDs and editions.

In 2010 as part of her LADA Thinker in Residency Mary Paterson wrote A Navigation Through Unbound, a piece I highly recommend to everyone who is interested in Live Art writing and publishing.

In 2010 we wrote an article for Contemporary Theatre Review on New Adventures in Live Art Publishing that is probably worth revisiting on the occasion of Unbound’s 10th anniversary. 

Read Contemporary Theatre Review: New Adventures in Live Art Publishing and Distribution

For September 2016, Unbound is offering 10 LADA publications for £10 each.

February 27, 2016

Special Offers ›

25% Special Offer: Not Just a Mirror - Looking for the Political Theatre of Today

Not Just a Mirror maps a movement of artists from all over the world searching for the political theatre of today. A theatre that wants to engage with society both in its contents as in its form, creating a contemporary community in which social and political actions can be deployed and in which societies in their – actual or possible – varieties are played out, performed, expanded, tested, or even invented.

Was £10.99 now only £8.25

Available only during February 2016.

February 27, 2016

Special Offers ›

25% Special Offer: The Only Way Home is Through the Show - Performance Works of Lois Weaver

Image: Christa Holka

Lois Weaver is one of the true pioneers in feminist and lesbian performance. The Only Way Home Is Through the Show explores her collaborative work with Split Britches and Spiderwoman as well as her solo projects, performance interventions, and work as a facilitator, teacher, and as Tammy WhyNot.

An exclusive extract from the publication featuring an interview between the editor Jen Harvie and Lois Weaver is now available to read on the Unbound blog.

Was £24.50 now only £18.40

Available only during February 2016.

February 26, 2016

Special Offers ›

25% Special Offer: Out of Now - The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh paperback edition

Tehching Hsieh, One Year Performance 1978-1979. Photograph by Chen Wei Kuong. © 1979 Tehching Hsieh.

Out of Now is the first major publication on the extraordinary and influential Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh. After years of near-invisibility, Hsieh has collaborated with the writer and curator Adrian Heathfield to create this meticulous and visually arresting record of the complete body of his artworks from 1978-1999. Out of Now is the first extensive critical account of these remarkable works.

An exclusive extract from the publication featuring an interview with Tehching Hsieh and the editor Adrian Heathfield about Hsieh's performance process  is now available to read on the Unbound blog.

Was £25 now only £18.75

Available only during February 2016.

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