Here, you’ll find discussions of our research activities, conversations with diverse specialists and artists, plus announcements of and reports on our events.
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.
Submit an abstract to our upcoming (online) session at the College Art Association’s annual conference! Theoretical, art historical, practice-based and experimental contributions are all welcome.
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.
In recent weeks, our research project hosted its first two public events: the two-day colloquium “Performance: The Ethics and the Politics of Care — # 1. Mapping the Field,” and “Living Materials: Ethics and Principles for Embodied Stewardship,” an in-depth conversation between Cori Olinghouse and Megan Metcalf. Julia reflects on what we learned from these events, and how that knowledge will endure and change in the future.
How to preserve complex digital artworks for the future? And what parallels can we draw between media art and performance art? Our recent conversation with Sabine Himmelsbach, director of the Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel (HeK), has led us to explore the institutional afterlives of performative artworks in a broader sense.
Dislocated Forces: Introductory Notes on the Research Project “Performance : Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge”
In a metaphorical sense, performance art might even take place in that blurred margin that the spotlight outlines on a black stage floor: a fraying, shimmering boundary, oscillating between the black box of the theater and the white cube of gallery and museum spaces. How might this liminal entity be conserved?
Ausgerenkte Kräfte: Eingangsnotate zu dem Forschungsprojekt «Performance : Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge»
Performance Art spielt sich vielleicht im metaphorischen Sinne an jenem unscharfen Rand ab, den der Kegelscheinwerfer auf dem schwarzen Bühnenboden zeichnet: Ein ausfransender, schillernder Rand – im metaphorischen Sinne zwischen der «Black Box» des Theaters und dem «White Cube» der Galerie- und Museumsräume oszillierend. Wie lässt das sich konservieren?
We anticipated a scintillating and productive discussion with anthropologist and filmmaker Michaela Schäuble when we met with her in April. That assumption proved entirely correct – but other assumptions we held about the contemporary practice of anthropology, and Schäuble’s own approach to documentation, were turned inside-out. (Photograph by Anja Dreschke.)
Proof of the vitality and the growing interest for the performative arts in Switzerland, there are currently not one but two exciting SNSF research projects that are engaging with performance art from the perspective of its institutionalization.
As an art historian, I am used to thinking of memory as something that must be captured in another medium – text, video, etc. – in order to be preserved. But perhaps memory itself can be a form of preservation.
For Florian Feigl, performance is about practice, continuity, and processes—things that lead to one another, things we do. Known for 300 (2009 – ongoing), a series of performances built upon everyday activities that take place within a prescribed time interval of circa 5 minutes or 300 seconds, the series exemplifies the concept of continuity in his work. Born in the moment of crisis while feeling overwhelmed by domestic obligations, his concept for this series followed a necessity to allocate slots of time to work. One can always find five minutes for doing something.
Folklorists view all forms of creative expression as performative, as modes of communication that must be interpreted in context. Can their methods towards understanding and documenting intangible things inspire us in our approach to performance conservation?
What is performance conservation? Time-based media conservator and now art historian Emilie Magnin is thinking about the interlacing of performance, documentation and conservation from a conservator’s perspective.
Submit a paper for presentation at our colloquium in May, “Performance: The Ethics and the Politics of Care – #1. Mapping the Field.”
Much like art performance, freely improvised music is considered spontaneous, transient, and unique. Could approaches from the world of music help us conserve ephemeral art?
Might Pippin Barr’s simple flash games represent a useful tool in the conservation of performance art?
How can live art be preserved for the future? And what does conservation theory and practice have to teach other disciplines seeking to understand art’s most ephemeral medium?