Performing the Past – Reenactment and Politics

Post by Alessandra Ferrini

The Port Huron Project (2006-2009) takes as its focus historical, protest speeches from the New Left movements of the Vietnam era. Tribe has commissioned actors and performers to reenact these speeches at the site of their original event. The audience is composed of both invited guests and passers-by. These works have been subsequently featured in gallery-based installations and are available online. By reenacting the past, Tribe reasserts its socio-political force and its relevance in the present. This reveals the possibilities for the past to be a catalyst for change in the present.

“More than just recovering the past, these re-speaking projects use archival speeches to ask questions about the current place of stridency and forceful dissent, and the possibilities of effective, galvanizing political discourse.”
– Julia Bryan-Wilson, Artforum, January 2008

Port Huron Project Overview from Mark Tribe on Vimeo.

Here is a list of the performances:

Until The Last Gun Is Silent: Coretta Scott King 1968/2006

We Must Name The System: Paul Potter 1965/2007

The Problem Is Civil Obedience: Howard Zinn 1971/2007

Let Another World Be Born: Stokely Carmichael 1967/2008

The Liberation of Our People: Angela Davis 1969/2008

We Are Also Responsible: Cesar Chavez 1971/2008

And here is a list of the installations:

Installation at the Park Avenue Armory

Times Square Screenings


Mark Tribe (USA) is an artist and curator working with performance, installation and new media. His work explores intersections between media technology and  political issues.

Visit the artist’s website.

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