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SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City

T.R. Uthco (Diane Hall, Doug Hall, Jody Proctor) in collaboration with Ant Farm, The Artist-President delivers the keynote address for Media Burn (2.30pm, 4th July 1975)

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Kennedy appeared in a long black car with an American flag on each fender. Well-groomed men in dark suits trotted alongside. The car stopped behind the bunting-draped speaker’s platform, and the man introduced as Kennedy bounded up the stairs. He looked like Kennedy, and he walked with his hands thrust into his coat pockets, thumbs protruding [….]

Kennedy gave a speech to 500 curiosity seekers assembled behind yellow barricades in the huge concrete parking lot. His speech seemed to be loosely based on a McGovern campaign document. While Kennedy spoke, some 50 cameras – still, video, movie – recorded the event, while a smaller number recorded the cameras recording Kennedy. “Mass media monopolies control people by their control of information,” said Kennedy. "I ask you, my fellow Americans, haven’t you ever wanted to put your foot through your television screen?” A roar went up from the crowd. (Carroll 1975) 

In the fall of 1974, Doug Hall and Jody Proctor began to develop a presidential archetype, “the Artist-President.” Proctor wrote the speeches that Hall delivered “presidentially” as performances. Over time, the character became more explicitly based on JFK, requiring a make up artist and the perfection of the Kennedy accent to complete the simulation. Working in collaboration with another California collective, Ant Farm, it was decided that the Artist President, after delivering the keynote address at Ant Farm’s Media Burn, would travel to Dallas, Texas where he would be assassinated. (Hall 2013d)

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