Transmitting/ Documenting/ Narrating

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This two-day on-line symposium aims to explore how performance and curatorial practices operate as sites of research.

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This two-day on-line symposium, organized by the PhD candidates Nathalie S. Fari (performance artist and researcher) and Nick Aikens (curator and researcher), affiliated to The Research School of the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, University of Gothenburg, is structured in two distinct strands:

1) Documentation, performance canon and research: How the processes of documenting and archiving a performance can operate as both artistic practice and site of embodied research.

2) The exhibition as a site of research: How exhibition making and the curatorial explores what is specific to the exhibition form that might allow it to be part - rather than the outcome - of a research process.

Day 1/ October, 12, 2020


Live broadcasted key-note lectures

(unlimited places)

  • Adrian Heathfield

In this performance-lecture I submerge into the thick past of some experiences of performances and their sites to find forms of articulation for the knowing-unknowing that they carry in the present. This attempt is made in the ‘somewhen’ of spoken memory: between an event that happened and its recursion. It is composed in the crossings between thought and act, image and text, hearing and touch. This is a search for the re-searching dynamics of art making. In the attempt, I lose my identity and way - my voice becoming tangled with the voices of others. The submersion is also an occasion for self-reflection on a writerly practice, both retro and prospective: a turning over of the imperatives that surround the critical and documentary afterlives of performance.

Adrian Heathfield is Professor of Performance and Visual Culture at the University of Roehampton, London.

  • Irit Rogoff

I wish to think research as ‘the main event’, an active, transformative and galvanising force that never hides in the shadows of a theatrically staged moment. To think about how an exhibit can not hide research but reveal it affectively. To think ‘research’ in relation to exhibiting is to shift from reporting on an investigative process, to the proposition of new realities. Research embodies several potentials – it has the capacity to stage new relations between knowledge otherwise thought to be incommensurable. Equally it can translate the urgencies of the day to a manifestation of emergent subjectivities, to indicate the affective dimensions of a set of lived conditions. Perhaps the most important relation of researching to exhibiting is its transformative potential. Such a transformative shift in consciousness can never come about through ‘showing’. It can only come about through encountering a proposition that can actualise latent desire and unspoken hopes. For this to take place we need to undo the inherited relations between objects and knowledge in which the latter is subservient to the former and to think of ‘knowledge unbounded’ as having the capacity to elicit emotional response.

Irit Rogoff is Professor in the Department of Visual Cultures, which she founded in 2002, at Goldsmiths College, London.


Working Group 1 - Performing archives with Nathalie S. Fari

(limited places: 30)

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the intersections - and manifestations - between the performing arts, the practices of documentation, and archival processes. While there have been scholars (Lepecki, 2010; Schneider, 2011) thinking around the emergence, validation and historiography of performance documents, many artists (Abramovic, 2005; Nachbar, 2008) have been using such documents as creative sources for their works, be it as - fully or partially - authentic re-enactments and/or re-performances. In many cases, these processes have led (or implied) to an archival logic which nevertheless might change according to the circumstances (or bodies) in which it is embedded. Thus, what does a performance archive tell us not only about the revival of a past (or artistic attitude), but also about its transfers into different media and/or artistic expressions? If the act of archiving is synonymous with preserving, cataloging or reproducing, how can we find new ways of extending or (re)telling its inherent events and/or narratives? And, for whom (which voices or institutional authorities) do we archive and how could we establish and re-imagine future audiences?

In this seminar, these questions will serve as starting points to analyse and discuss three different research/art projects that operate with archival strategies and the (re)shaping of a performance canon. These are: Re.act.feminism (2011-13), curated by Bettina Knaup and Beatrice Ellen Stammer, Undo, Redo and Repeat (2014) by Christina Ciupke and Anna Till, My Documents (2020), curated by Lola Arias.

15.00 - 18.00

Working Group 2 - Researching and exhibiting #1: Close readings

(limited places: 30)

The two seminars are structured around close readings of recent research / exhibition projects. The sessions will pay particular attention to the relationship between the histories and epistemologies the projects set out to engage with, the process of research and their mediation in exhibition form. How did these different elements inform one another and how did the process of exhibiting further a research trajectory?

Curators Rasha Salti and Kristine Khouri will present Past Disquiet - an exhibition and research project that excavated the history of and around The International Art Exhibition for Palestine (Beirut, 1978). It proposed a speculative history of politically engaged artistic and museographic practices in the milieu of the international anti-imperialist solidarity movement of the 1970s. The exhibition originated at MACBA, Barcelona (2015) and was subsequently shown at HKW, Berlin (2016), MSSA, Santiago (2018) and the Sursock Museum, Beirut (2018). An accompanying book co-edited by Salti and Khouri was published in 2019 by the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw and distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

Anthony Gardner will focus on the 2020 Biennale of Sydney curated by the artist and researcher, Brook Andrew. Called NIRIN, meaning “edge” in Wiradjuri (the language of Andrew’s Indigenous country), the Biennale presented itself as an artist-led, first nations-led and queer-led biennial, anchored in specific modes of artistic research and exhibition histories. Beginning from the Biennale’s presentation of archives related to two previous exhibitions and their presentations of Indigenous art – Aratjara and Magiciens de la terre – I want to explore some of the productive tensions that underpinned the exhibition: between the decolonial and the Indigenous, between knowledge and obfuscation, artistic and curatorial practices, the historical and the present. How we think through exhibitions (and not just about exhibitions, as one celebrated anthology has asserted), and the challenges posed by exhibition histories to later exhibitions and to art histories alike, will be an important reflection in our discussions.

Day 2/ October, 13, 2020


WG 1 - Research Video: Exploring annotated video as a form for publishing artistic research with Gunter Lösel

(limited places: 30)

While the epistemic potential of video is getting more evident, there is little to be found on how exactly one can publish the according results. Submitting a doctoral thesis – a key form of scientific publication – still requires a written text or a two-component output (text and video), even if the research process largely relies on videos. While research papers have a long history and follow rather clear academic conventions, none of this is true for a video output. The researchers find themselves in a field with almost no standards or recommendations, and there are few platforms for publishing (though this last point is rapidly changing and presumably will gain even more momentum in the coming years. In this context we started the project Research Video in Zurich 2017. It consists of: (1) Software development: One part of our team developed a software tool that was optimized for artistic research and allows for a publication as an annotated video. (2) Research standards: Our team continually reflected on the questions of how to meet both academic and artistic needs, trying to shape the research process accordingly.

In this workshop I will give an introduction into the use of the Research Video tool, provide some use-cases and give the participants the chance to annotate a video themselves. I will provide information on how to publish an annotated video in the Medienarchiv der Künste and in the Research Catalogue. I will also describe and discuss our process of developing basic standards that, on one side, meet academic claims at two minimal points – “shareability” and “challenge ability”, and, on the other side, keep the tool open to multiple usage, agnostic of research tradition and method.

WG 2 - Researching and exhibiting #2: Close readings

(limited places: 30)

In the second of the seminars we will turn to two further case studies ‘Defiant Muses: Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France (1970s-1980s)’ (2019-20) with Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and ‘Southern Constellations: The poetics of the non-aligned movement’ (2019) with Bojana Piksur. Chaired by Nick Aikens

Defiant Muses: Delphine Seyrig and the Feminist Video Collectives in France (1970s-1980s), curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez and Giovanna Zapperi explored the intersection between the histories of cinema, video and feminism in France. Focusing on the emergence of video collectives in the 1970s, the exhibition proposed to reconsider the history of the feminist movement in France through a set of media practices, focusing on a network of creative alliances that emerged in a time of political turmoil. The exhibition was shown at LaM Lille Metropole, Villeneuve-d'Ascq (2019) and Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid: (2019-2020). An accompanying book edited by Petrešin-Bachelez and Giovanna Zapperi was published in 2019 by Museo Reina Sofía.

The exhibition Southern Constellations: The Poetics of the Non-Aligned curated by Bojana Piksur (Moderna Gallerija, Ljubljana, 2019) turned to the ideas, ideals and principles of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Formed in 1961 in Yugosalvia the NAM was a transnational political project, a coalition of small and middle-sized states, mostly former colonies and developing countries, from the global south or the Third World. Including archival material, and artistic practice, including a number of new works, the exhibition looked to the ideas, ideals and principles of the movement particularly in close connection with its cultural policies and placed them in a contemporary context with the question: Could there be a non-aligned contemporaneity? And if so, what would it be like?


Panel Discussion

(unlimited places)

This final session of the symposium will critically reflect on the way in which performance and exhibition has - in different ways - operated online in the wake of COVID-19. Turning to specific examples, this session will look at the ways in which current exhibitions and performances are developed and mediated (either live or through records of past events) and what they tell us about the specificity and nature of these respective forms? Equally, what role does documentation and the archive play in face of a growing concern towards the preservation, representation and dissemination of these respective forms on the internet? And finally, how can these new digital formats in turn, help us to reflect upon forms of documentation and live experience?

Participating contributors: Elli Pappakonstantinou (theatre director, writer)/ Eva La Cour (artistic researcher, PhD candidate Valand Academy) / Ivani Santana (dancer, researcher, professor at UFBA Brazil) / Julian Klein (theatre director and founder of IFK - Institut für Künstlerische Forschung) / Yolande van der Heide (Van Abbemuseum). Moderated by Nathalie S. Fari & Nick Aikens.


Live-Streaming Performance

(unlimited places)

The performers Charlotta Ruth and PETER will present parts of the on-going Living Documents project in which documentation tools and memory are enacted as performance loops and forms of liveness.

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