Performance Art: Who Cares? Actors in the Documentation and Reactivation of Performance Art

22 March 2019, Migros Museum for Contemporary Art Zurich

Photographs, films, videos, and other documents play a crucial role in the history of performance art. They confer duration on ephemeral events and allow for their historicization as well as reactivation, making art performances accessible to new audiences. This process is associated with a fluctuation of meanings and functions: on the one hand, documentation is the evidence of the live character of the art event; on the other, it becomes a medium of the work of performance art in its own right. Which function a document serves in the afterlife of performances depends not only on the intentions of the artists and documentarians. Rather, it is also a result of the activities of various other actors that are involved in the production, preservation, exhibition, and reenactment of performance art. The symposium will bring together artists, archivists, curators, gallerists, and scholars for a conversation about performance art and the roles of its documentation.


2 pm Welcome/Introduction: Tancredi Gusman and Alena Nawrotzki

2.15 pm Sabine Gebhardt Fink, Andrea Saemann, Chris Regn and Margarit von Büren

3.45 pm Graciela Carnevale and Mira Bernabeu in dialogue with Tancredi Gusman and Cornelia Huth

5 pm Ewa Partum (via video), followed by Karolina Majewska-Güde who talks about Ewa Partum’s performative artworks

6 pm Eleanor Antin in dialogue with Tancredi Gusman and Cornelia Huth (via Skype)

7 pm Final remarks, Q&A

Followed by an apéro


The symposium is organized by the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst as part of its cooperation with the project Between Evidence and Representation: History of Performance Art Documentation from 1970 to 1977 directed by Tancredi Gusman at Freie Universität Berlin. The project Between Evidence and Representation has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 747881.


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