What does it mean to conserve performance art, to extend its lifespan into the future? While art museums have begun to exhibit as well as collect works of performance, questions remain as to how such processes of institutionalization and historicization shift – or, perhaps, distort – the meaning and experience of such works. Art historian and critic Claire Bishop will discuss these and related questions with the research team behind the SNSF research project Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge. We will address the potential and pitfalls of staging, collecting and conserving performance – long considered an ephemeral and rebellious medium – in museums and galleries, and debate how performance might live on sustainably in art’s institutions and beyond.
One of the most prolific authors and critical thinkers in the discourses surrounding contemporary art, Claire Bishop is professor of art history at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Bishop holds a 2002 PhD from the University of Essex and has since published several influential books, such as Installation Art: A Critical History (2005), Participation (2006), Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012), Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art (2013) and Claire Bishop in Conversation with/en conversación con Tania Bruguera (2020). Bishop is also the author of important essays including «Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics» (October, 2004), «The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents» (Artforum, 2006) and the article «Black Box, White Cube, Gray Zone» (TDR 2018). Translated into twenty languages, her writings quickly become an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the subject.
This conversation will take place within the Research Wednesday lecture series organized at the Department of Materiality in Art and Culture, Bern Academy of the Arts, as a part of the ongoing research project Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project focuses on the questions of conservation of performance-based works, their temporal specifics, the involvement of the human and non-human body, the world of their extended trace history, memory, and archive. Explored are notions of care, the ideals of traditional conservation and their relations to tacit or explicit knowledge, skill and technique. Taking as a starting point the necessity for conservators to access and deepen this area of study, and unlike queries that situate these questions within other disciplines, in this project, we approach performance as a necessarily conservable form.
Introduction by Sebastian Dobrusskin and Hanna B. Hölling, in collaboration with SNSF Performance team members, Julia Pelta Feldman, Emilie Magnin and Valerian Maly. There will be a possibility to engage with the speaker in the Q&A.
This online event is free, but registration is required. A Zoom link will be sent to registrants one day before the event.