magazine records document the publication's content, editorial process and administrative
history during its quarterly run from 1978-1997. Founded as a magazine covering performance
art, the publication gradually shifted editorial focus first to include all new and
experimental art, and then to activism and community-based art. Due to its extensive
compilation of artist files, the archive provides comprehensive documentation of the
progressive art world from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.
Linda Burnham, a public relations officer at University of California, Irvine, borrowed
$2,000 from the university credit union in 1977, and in a move she described as "impulsive,"
started High Performance magazine. Burnham's belief in the transformative
power of performance art had developed from her personal discovery of feminism and feminist
art, which was an important aspect of much performance art at this time; her exposure to a
number of early artists, such as Barbara Smith and Nancy Buchanan, UCI alumnae, who were
still performing in the area; and especially her experience of seeing Chris Burden
interviewed on television by Regis Philbin and realizing that others did not share her
intense, positive reaction to his work. As the first magazine devoted exclusively to
performance art, High Performance documented both the budding, local Los
Angeles performance art movement, and its national and international counterparts,
publishing artists whose work would not have been covered in more mainstream
216.1 Linear Feet
(318 boxes, 29 flatfile folders, 1 roll)
Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.
Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of unreformatted audio-visual and
computer materials, and the business files in Boxes 167-170, which will remain sealed until