Martha Wilson

Creativity Seminars

Risktaking is big news these days: A management consultant's book, Working Without a Net: How to Survive and Thrive in Today's High-Risk Business World, recently appeared on a required reading list (along with the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers) compiled by Newt Gingrich for his fellow members of Congress (1/9/95, Chronicle, The New York Times). My first thought was, maybe this is the path along which the American avant-garde may worm its way into the hearts of Conservative lawmakers, and ultimately, to change the minds of the American public with regard to the value of avant-garde art to contemporary society.

Oh, well, a girl can dream, can't she? Or just maybe, by changing the turf upon which this battle is fought, it may be won by surprising the enemy. In fact, Franklin Furnace has already begun to explore the common denominator of risk-taking which in a de-facto manner already unites the business and artists' communities. On September 29 and 30th, 1994, Franklin Furnace collaborated with Wyndham Incentive Marketing to bring together performance artist David Cale and a dozen executives from the corporate community to explore ways artists train themselves not only to understand risk, but to embrace it and harness it to make art.

The following elements comprised this two-day seminar:

  1. Performance art presentation
  2. Exercise, first designed by Laurie Anderson, led by Martha Wilson
  3. Performances by all participants
  4. Dinner together
  5. Next morning, exercises led by Ann-McGee Cooper and Duane Trammel, consultants to Wyndham Incentive Marketing, to relate personal risk-taking of the previous afternoon to the bottom-line needs of business.

Martha Wilson is a performance artist and the Director of Franklin Furnace.