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Performativity in the Gallery

Staging Interactive Encounters


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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3. Exhibiting Performance, Staging Experience



3Exhibiting Performance, Staging Experience

First memory of digital performance within a gallery setting: Exhibition Web as Performance Space, ICA, 2003

The year is 2003.1 I am researching ‘cybertheatres’, performance practices that develop in networked environments, when I find out about the exhibition Web as Performance Space at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Featuring work by Kelli Dipple, Coco Fusco and Ricardo Dominguez, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Kristin Lucas, and Tina La Porta, the exhibition ‘presents a spectrum of approaches to performance on the web’, aiming to ‘draw[s] parallels between the web as a new arena for performance and the early years of video as a performance tool’.2 I am thrilled to see cutting edge digital performance practices presented within a mainstream art context, and intrigued to find out how performance that takes place in the networks might materialize within a gallery space; so I visit.

The exhibition is located at what used to be the gallery’s Digital Studio space: a small room occupied by computers placed on desks. I open the door and enter; the room is empty; I am there alone. It feels as if I have ← 43 | 44 → sneaked into some computer geek’s confined basement office space. In retrospect, the sitcom The IT Crowd springs to mind: ‘Banished from the ivory towers of Reynholm Industries, the IT crowd lurk below ground.’3 For an exhibition of performance, the setting is far...

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