In conservation and art history, two disciplines that remain very visually oriented, the sound aspects of artworks are too often neglected or forgotten. This aspect was the subject of recent discussions with performance scholar Heike Roms and time-based media conservator Amy Brost.
This post reflects on our visit to an exhibition that showcases the use of advanced technologies – and partnerships with industry – to preserve, research, and access cultural heritage.
When we ask about how to conserve performance-based art, what are we asking? If we think of performance as itself a mode of conservation, what are we thinking? What is at stake in conserving changeability?Rebecca Schneider  Contemporary discourses of care emergent from recent art and material culture have long left behind both the stasis …
Recently, our team met with Philip Auslander, an influential performance scholar who has argued that performance documentation is not merely a passive afterimage of a live act, but rather can be seen to partially – in some cases, even wholly – determine a performance’s reception and thus actively shapes what we understand the performance to be. Such documentation, Auslander argues, is itself “performative.”
During our recent conversation with Canadian artist and curator Paul Couillard, we discussed the preservation of performance through the lens of the various curatorial and artistic projects that he has been engaged with. How should a performance work be remembered, what about it is to be preserved? And how to foster and renew relationships between audiences, artists and artworks? These are some of the questions that have nurtured Paul’s thoughts in caring for his own work as well as the work of others over the years.
Guest contributor Nicole Savoy discusses the team's recent public conversation with Claire Bishop, in which the art historian and critic responded to the question: "can performance art be conserved?"
What role does architecture play in choreographing performance – both the actions of the performer, and the reception of their audience? How do the spaces we inhabit affect our movements and behavior?
The question of conservation is challenging the field of performance art, but at the same time it is also eruptive, creative and evocative. On February 10, 2021 we spoke with Florian Reichert, head of the Department of Theatre at Bern University of the Arts, about the influence conservation has on performance art and theatre, the differences and similarities between theatre and performance and theatrical performance and the kind of performances that are based on the visual art.
In the conversation with performance artist Marilyn Arsem, our research group Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge focused on her artistic work, the difficulties posed by the attempts to conserve performance art and the complications in preserving a performance before it happened.
The idea of "anarchival materiality" – which probes how rebellious and fugitive media might help reveal the histories and biases of anthropology – seems a promising approach to the documentation of performance.