Create the Condition You Describe, is an video reflecting on a renowned protest by the radical theater group The San Francisco Mime Troupe (SFMT), who intentionally provoked an arrest with the San Francisco park officials by performed without a permit in Lafayette Park. What makes this moment remarkable is that instead of accepting the arrest the Mime Troupe claimed the arrest as their own by announcing that the performance they were giving on that day was not their normally scheduled drama but rather the arrest itself. The artwork investigates this protest-as-performance, as a moment of aesthetic conflict—a conflict between art and the everyday and art and authority—which opened up possibilities for demonstration/protest as a theatrical or performed endeavor and reframed, so to speak, the possibilities for aesthetic expression throughout the 1960s.
The video below presents SFMT’s founder Ronald Davis, as he re-performs the introduction he gave during the protest, but presented solely as gesture to emphasize the importance of dance and movement in public/street performance. The video is accompanied by a scripted audio piece, in which Judy Goldhaft a former member of the Mime Troupe (also a former Digger) reads a meditation, describing the shifting roles of audiences, actors and the stage within the protest.
Performer: Ronald Davis