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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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12. Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness


← 204 | 205 →HELEN SLOAN

12Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness

Shyness in the gallery: A background

Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness was an exhibition and event to investigate, through interactive media and art, the role that shyness has played in the arts, galleries and socially at particular points during recent history.1 Although the exhibition ostensibly focused on relatively recent technologies, the ways in which shyness has been regarded through different media and contexts was a focus in curating the exhibition. To pre-war western society, shyness and reserve were seen as positive qualities reflecting the grace and understatement desirable in society at the time.2 By the late twentieth century and with even greater emphasis in the twenty-first century, shyness has been seen as an affliction that has escalated to a catalogued mental disorder under social phobia.3

← 205 | 206 →The pressure for people to participate has been felt in a range of contexts accentuated by the introduction of social networking tools and performative approaches to experiencing events and learning. Collective working and collaboration is a part of the contemporary workplace and leisure time, mostly requiring an outgoing nature.4 In the space of a hundred years an emphasis on understatement and reserve has shifted to making personal revelations publicly in media and online spaces. Shyness and reserve are now discouraged.

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