For Simone Leigh and Performa's conference on Black Surrealism — O'Grady taught a course on Futurism, Dada and Surrealism at SVA for 20 years but had not written of the movements' effect on her work. These rough notes made for a conference presenter indicate why she loved their methodologies more than their art.
Text for the 2012 Paris Triennale English-language website — Written to replace a curatorial text on the Trennale's English website, the text describes the effect of O'Grady's hybrid background on content and form in her work, elaborating this with respect to Miscegenated Family Album, her "novel in space" in the Triennale.
Unpublished paragraphs on individual works in INTAR exhibit, 1991 — Written to answer FAQs about the works without prescribing viewers' responses. The photomontages were not based in Surrealist or Dada randomness. To make arguments and not just images or dreams, rational sources were twisted so unfamiliar subjective material of the "other" might enter.
Posted to the moca.org WACK site — O’Grady posted this brief synopsis of the performance and its background on the WACK! exhibit’s excellent website. Significantly, she also posted 13 largely unknown photos-with-captions documenting the performance, which historically had been victim to two iconic images. Lacking a full context, they had become empty signifiers.
WACK! audio statement, published in Art Lies #54, Summer 2007 — For WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the first major museum exhibit of feminist art, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A., O’Grady was asked to record an audio statement for the cell-phone tour to explain how her piece related to the show’s theme.
WACK! gallery talk, published in Art Lies #54, Summer 2007 — As part of her gallery talk for WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at MOCA, LA, O’Grady read this statement inspired by Marsha Meskimmon’s important catalogue essay, in which the theoretical underpinning for the show’s historic statement of including 50% non- U.S. artists had been laid out.
Unpublished email exchange — During an e-mail exchange in which they were sharing ideas and work, O'Grady sent Roth a copy of Lucy Lippard's review of Art Is. . . . Roth's questions prompted O'Grady to elaborate on the making and meaning of the performance.
Binder statement for Daniel Reich exhibit — At curator Nick Mauss’s request, O’Grady first exhibited five of the 26 cut-outs that she’d done on successive Sundays, from June 5 to November 20, 1977, in a group show nearly 30 years later — Between the Lines, in March 2006 at Daniel Reich Temporary (The Chelsea Hotel). She wrote a binder statement about her original work method and state of mind.
Wall statement for exhibit at Thomas Erben Gallery, Soho — Written for the first exhibit of “Studies #3 and 4 for Flowers of Evil and Good” at Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC, this discussion of the father of modernism Charles Baudelaire and his Haitian common-law wife Jeanne Duval, as well as Picasso and O’Grady’s mother Lena, places their relationships in the postmodernist moment.
Artist brochure statement for Lorraine O’Grady / MATRIX 127, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, May 21 – Aug 20, 1995. Adapted from “Lorraine O’Grady, conceptual artist,” in Susan Cahan and Zoya Kocur, eds., Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education. New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Routledge, 1996.
Unpublished statement, for Tony Whitfield — A letter to Tony Whitfield in preparation for Just Above Midtown’s Afro- Pop catalogue interview is O’Grady’s most self-conscious to that point. Experiencing a lack of clear precedents for her work, in it she attempts to theorize her relationship to performance art and the paucity of role models, and to face the question of the audience for black avant-garde art.
Unpublished statement, for Judson Memorial Church, unsent — In writing a proposal to perform Rivers at Judson Memorial Church, a venue with important avant-garde history, O’Grady unexpectedly reached greater clarity on the spiritual aspects of her work, especially its forms.
Working script — O’Grady’s most autobiographical performance was a “three-ring” simultaneous narrative performed one time only in the Loch section of Central Park on August 18 for “Art Across the Park,” curated by Gilbert Coker and Horace Brockington. This script, redrafted until the day of performance, and a set of photo-documents are the only remains.
High Performance #17/18, Artist’s Chronicle — After a delay to see if the first chronicle on Mlle Bourgeoise Noire would be accepted by High Performance, a second on Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline was submitted the following year — though it had in fact premiered at Just Above Midtown just 3 months later.
Unpublished statement, for Lucy Lippard — O’Grady early on felt the need, and was asked, to explain herself —as in this reply to a request by Lucy Lippard on politics in art. Lippard, curating “ACTING OUT: The first political performance art series,” had invited her to perform. The letter dated 1.1.81 addressed practical and other issues and became her first statement on performance art.
High Performance #13, Artist’s Chronicle — Her first submission to a performance art journal was a description of Mlle Bourgeoise Noire’s earliest appearance, a guerrilla action at Just Above Midtown, the country’s only black avant-garde art gallery.