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Performativity in the Gallery

Staging Interactive Encounters


Edited By Outi Remes, Laura MacCulloch and Marika Leino

This book coincides with an increase in the programming of live art elements in many galleries and museums. Traditional art history has, however, been wary of live art’s interdisciplinarity and its tendency to encourage increased formal and conceptual risk taking. Time-based performances have challenged the conventions of documentation and the viewer’s access to the art experience. This book questions the canon of art history by exploring participation, liveness, interactivity, digital and process-based performative practices and performance for the camera, as presented in gallery spaces.
The essays present both academic research as well as case studies of curatorial projects that have pushed the boundaries of the art historical practice. The authors come from a wide range of backgrounds, ranging from curators and art producers to academics and practising artists. They ask what it means to present, curate and create interdisciplinary performative work for gallery spaces and offer cutting-edge research that explores the intricate relationship between art history, live and performing arts, and museum and gallery space.
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2. Collecting Performance-Based Art: New Challenges and Shifting Perspectives



2Collecting Performance-Based Art: New Challenges and Shifting Perspectives

Historically, performance or live works seem to have been perceived by artists, theoreticians and curators as a form of practice which defies absorption into an art system dependent on the currency of objects. Being non-material, performance art has long been considered at odds with well-established systems and processes for managing art as a material object.1 In the past, live performances were considered uncollectable because of their intangible nature. When museums collected anything related to performance, they collected the material remains of the performance, never the performance itself as a live event. Only since the early 2000s have museums begun to collect live works, by acquiring the means and the rights to re-perform them. These circumstances prompt questions about the extent that the challenges for collecting and conservation which have been raised historically with regard to performance art are still relevant for today’s collecting practices?

Through an exploration of examples from Tate’s collection, this chapter claims that the main challenge to the museum currently is not the non-materiality or even the liveness of these works, but rather what they demand to maintain their memory, the skills needed for their enactment, or perhaps even their currency. Thus, whilst the non-materiality and liveness of performance may seem inherently challenging to the concept of a museum collection, this chapter examines this assumption and explores where the points of friction actually arise.

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