Title PAJ: a journal of performance and art
Location New York
Publisher MIT Press
Periodicity Quarterly
ISSN 1520-281X
Published Since 1976-
Indexed Holdings 2000-


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Periodical's Overview

"PAJ is admired internationally for its independent critical thought and cutting-edge explorations. PAJ charts new directions in performance, video, drama, dance, installations, media, film, and music, bringing together ideas of theatre and the visual arts. Artists’ writings, performance drawings and notations, essays, interviews, and a special review section for performances, exhibitions and international festivals are featured in the issues. Also included are new plays and performance texts from around the world. Podcasts and additional video and audio clips appear on PAJ's online home.

Selected Subject Headings

  • Actresses, Canadian
  • Berlin - intellectual life - 20th century
  • Buto
  • Choreographers - United States
  • Dance - data processing
  • Experiments in Art and Technology (organization)
  • Hysteria in literature
  • Indians of North America
  • Impersonation - history
  • Intelligent agents (computer software)
  • Interactive art
  • Mechanization in dance
  • Mental illness in literature
  • Movement, Aesthetics of
  • Performance art - scripts
  • Stigmatization
  • Theater - Denmark
  • Theresienstadt (concentration camp) - songs and music
  • White Panther Party


Established in 1976 by Bonnie Marranca and Gautam Dasgupta in a culturally effervescent New York, PAJ continues to this day to report and nourish the same scene that ignited its creation: New York City, United States of America.

In Marranca’s words,[1]PAJ was a response to the perpetual dissatisfaction from the city’s experimental creative quarters with the mainstream media's coverage of the downtown performance and video art scenes, as well as the perceived lacks with the criticism emanating from another serious New York theater institution, the journal The Drama Review. For this reason, we find it endearing when more than 30 years after, The Drama Review publishes a kind, yet questioning review of Marranca’s book of collected essays which were on their majority published in PAJ.

We’d like to quote from this review: “As such, Performance Histories [Marranca’s book] gives voices to a singular perspective on the fate of the avant-garde in North America and elsewhere over recent decades. But it also represents a kind of institutional memory of those practices and events, particularly for readers who live in other parts of the world…”[2]

This commentary could very likely be applied to the overall enterprise of PAJ: to account, to give voice, and to offer a space for direct experience with a very specific milieu: New York City. It is true, there are forays into other scenes, mostly European with a privileging of Germanic productions and authors, but if one needs to get an impression of what took and is taking place in the experimental fringes of New York’s experimental art and performative fields as well as its subsequent canonization, PAJ is the place to find those voices.

In contrast with the more socially engaged The Drama Review, with its theory-based scholarship and its kaleidoscopic internationalism, PAJ is grounded by the voice of its editors, shaped by their direct engagement and encounter with the works and evolutions of what they love most: artists, performers, theater. It is this resolve, this conviction in the power of the rare and fleeting moments of creation allowed by their works and performances that has made PAJ a rare space for the publishing of artists’ reflections, notes, performance scripts, plays, as well as sketches and drawings. The creators’ musings and thoughts complement the conventional tropes one comes to expect from such a journal: reviews (of plays, of art exhibitions, of performances, of festivals) and interviews; all this, combined with thoughtful scholarship.

An indispensable guiding tool for an understanding of a concrete milieu, there is no doubt that this is a highly personalized view, and as such, one needn't confuse the part for the whole, aware as we can be that there are always lacks in each of our perceptual and intellectual engagements with reality.

But Marranca is clear about her convictions, and even acknowledges the limits of what could be called “embedded scholarship,” as PAJ has been so close and so instrumental in nurturing and shaping the work featured in its pages. To use her self-reflective words, “what remains is the mysteriousness and ravishing heartbreak of a form, valued for its ceremony of presence, even as it occasions absence.”[3]

To give voice to the many and to acknowledge that lacune are being created at the same time denotes an unusual intellectual honesty; this honesty, along with an unrelenting passion, is PAJ's remarkable achievement.

To peruse the indexed contents of PAJ, please log into the database.


[1]Artist Organized Art. Bonnie Marranca of PAJ Publications: PAJ founder interviewed in Germantown, New York. December 24th, 2009. Artist Organized Art Website.

[2]Paul Rae. “Performance histories [book review].” In: The Drama review (New York), vol. 54, no. 3, no. 207 (Fall 2010): 178.

[3]Bonnie Marranca. Performance histories. New York: PAJ Publications, 2008: 23. As quoted by Paul Rae, ibid.