Call for papers: Conserving performance, performing conservation

90-minute session for the Annual Conference of the College Art Association
Date: March 3-5, 2022 (time and date of the panel TBD)
Location: Online
Deadline to submit: September 16

How can a work of performance – ephemeral, site- and time-sensitive, possibly tied to the body of the artist – be conserved? This question has long been answered by recourse to documentation and performance “relics,” the tangible, exhibitable and, above all, collectible remains of performances. Yet in the past decade, museums have begun to acquire live artworks and restage historical ones, lending urgency to the practical as well as theoretical problems of conserving works of art long considered too ephemeral to be conservable.

As contemporary art has grown more demanding, conservation has also grown as a discipline, developing new discourses and practices that both revise and expand the conservator’s role. No longer confined behind the scenes, conservators are now routinely asked to consult on acquisitions, direct complex installations, or even creatively partake in the reinstantiation of conceptual and performance works. Conservators accordingly have a new consciousness of their influence on the work of art and thus the course of art history.

This panel will examine performance as the object of conservation, seeking contributions from scholars, conservators, archivists, curators, artists, and others who address theoretical and practical questions related to the ongoing life of performance works in institutions and beyond, as well as explorations of the conservator’s role in bringing liveness into the museum.

A proposal must include:

1. Completed CAA proposal form, available here:
2. A shortened CV (2 pages max).

Please submit proposals to organizers Hanna Hölling and Julia Pelta Feldman at by September 16.

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