About Preserving The Act
The Journey of Making The Act and Preserving it for Learning & Research:
I have been endeavoring to make the journal available for artists, readers, and researchers. Why? Simply, I think the work of the artists in it is of cultural importance even today, let alone that preserving work is an important historical task. Many of the artists are still alive and practicing and others made work that is still in consideration in art and academies. Some of the work was first published in The Act.
We Made The Act
We worked on five journals and were able to print and distribute four of them in the US, Canada, and Europe between 1985 and 1991. It would not have been done without the help and generosity of a large number of artists and friends who helped in every way. We created a non-profit, established connections to artists who inspired us, evaluated and edited and argued about and produced articles, wrote grants and raised just enough money to get a press to run, and distributed the journals to newsstands and bookstores. I personally just wanted to get the work out because I felt it was needed. None of us were ever paid, for better or worse. We felt we were holding up a flag for valuable attitudes and values, for a culture we felt was constructive and fair and that we wanted to live in.
So The Act was published and distributed. And it began to garner some attention. It was easier to raise money, since we showed we could build a quality journal. And might have gone on to become a longer-lived platform with a larger audience, but for a variety of reasons (including Jacques' death from AIDs in late '88, I ceased producing and distributing the journal in the early 1990's and by 1996 I was in San Francisco being a father, a secret artist, and technology leader. (I will explain what was behind that decision somewhere, sometime – an explanation is owed.)
First Preservation Attempt
So the physical journal had gotten out into the world, but that only goes as far. And as it was no longer appearing on newstands, and resided only in the limited public places of university collections, museum archives, and collectors shelves it was disappearing over time. I felt it needed to be preserved because we had made a work of value, if not just a record of culture at the time.
From my perch in the technology community around San Francisco, it was obvious that people were increasingly adopting web technology in their everyday lives. This is pre-"social media" as we know it today. So in 2004 it was clear that the Web was evolving to be a practicable platform for sharing information around the world and a means to preserve it as well — even art information. So for the sake of preserving the journal and the work and ideas I cared about, I aimed to get The Act online so that it could reach a new audience and not disappear. So in 2004, I had every page of every issue photographed, collected those photos into four PDFs, one for each issue published, and I put those PDFs online on this very website. The idea of converting the entire thing into webpages was not something I had the time, energy, or money for. So I put it all together and put it up on this website in 2004 And I thought that was that. And they have been here ever since.
But what happened was that while the artists who we had published and even worked on the journal were almost all still working (mostly), the magazine had little presence or reference on Web that I could see on those few times that I checked. Even though some had become more established as artists, art professors, art history professors, etc, the journals were not much being referenced. Some folks managed to find them and some passionate folks in Barcelona and Brazil and elsewhere would reference them in their Ph.Ds and send questions to me addressed to "Professor Greenberg".
I thought that maybe some of that inattention may have been due to the utter corruption of the art-world with it's odious relationships between so-called "collectors" and money hungry museums-as-culture reservoirs. But on the other hand, I knew that there had been a rise in academic artists taking interest in what has come to be called Social Practice, something we had largely promoted the antecedents of and had early work in.
Anyway, despite my early efforts to get them preserved online, the effort had failed. They were there but not there. And so I realized that if this work were to be preserved, I had to do it and I had do it better than my first attempt. So I decided that when I could I'd find a way to get them up "properly".
This Preservation Attempt - 2023
—Jeffrey Greenberg, 2023
So now in 2023 I have the time to take on this problem of getting The Act properly visible on the Web. The motivation is the same though with the twist that I can see the horizon of my life. I am not motivated by money and never have been. As I said before, the effort here is to preserve the work and share it so that those who are want or need or are looking for such work can rendezvous with it. It's also a way to engage my own mortality and ego in a constructive way. Call it a performance... a perseverance event... a non-audience work... art-life intersection... a mortality play.
In the least, this effort should result in getting a snapshot of a certain time and some of it's intellectual and political reaction. As I go through these articles now I think it still also promotes values and techniques that are useful today -- in response to today's miserable politics and exercises of power.
This effort is a work in progress. As you click the links above you will and see a table of contents of each issue with links to the articles. If the link is in bold contrasty black, it goes to the webified version, and the grey links go to the 2004 pdfs, slightly enhanced. If you cut and paste from the PDFs you will see that OCR scanning is still terrible and you will be pasting mostly jibberish – they really can only be read by people still. I hope that before the end of the year, that everything has been webafied and available for reading and viewing. (The work remains copyrighted so I can continue to shepard it.)
—Jeffrey Greenberg, 2023
Copyright © 1986-2023: Jeffrey Greenberg - All rights reserved worldwide.