Sarah Cooper’s article “From PersonA to Personality: Edit deAk’s Programs of Performance, Language, and Image, 1974–1980” will trace the scattershot yet consequential evolution of the renegade writer, publisher, producer, and club personality Edit deAk. Cooper will consider the nuances of deAk’s integration into New York’s downtown art world by exploring the contradictions in deAk’s criticism of the role personality plays, and deAk’s own embodiment of a sensibility that propelled a greater interest in the public persona within art making and art thinking. Cooper’s examination will begin in 1974, the year that deAk invited artists Adrian Piper, Vito Acconci, Scott Burton, Jack Smith, and Laurie Anderson to draw inspiration from their own biographies as participants in PersonA, a four-day program held at Artists Space. The essay will conclude in 1980, on the occasion of deAk’s multimedia program Dubbed in Glamour, for which the emcees Tina L’Hotsky, Cookie Mueller, and Chi Chi Valenti hosted artists and musicians including Nan Goldin, Debbie Harry, and the punk band Bush Tetras.

Sarah Cooper is a curator, writer, and art historian based in Los Angeles. She is public programs specialist for performance at the J. Paul Getty Museum, where she directs the experimental performance series Ever Present. Cooper has organized programs featuring works by artists and musicians including Martin Creed, Brendan Fernandes, Simone Forti, Kim Gordon, Lonnie Holley, Derek Jarman, Solange Knowles, Moor Mother, Helado Negro, Patti Smith, Midori Takada, and David Wojnarowicz. She has previously held positions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.