The Challenge of Archiving Performance Art (Afternoon Session)


Performance art, since its beginning, has been an open-ended medium that pushes the boundaries of established art forms. Its intangible and ephemeral forms of presentation challenge conventional modes of curating, collection, and documenting art. Tracing its development is often an arduous task. Performance art, with its anti-establishment nature has long been marginalised by mainstream 'at history', and likewise, it marginalises itself to maintain its critical distance from the establishment. Unlike traditional art forms, which produce objects for consumption, works of performance art only come to life once. In some extreme cases, artists do not or even refuse to document their work in the belief that documentation cannot represent [the power of] live performance. Conceiving of the archive as a kind of infrastructure for supporting performance art is therefore a critical and challenging task, especially in the blooming scene in Asia.



Art 'after' Performance: Extensions of Performance into Media and Culture
Thomas J. Berghuis, Department of Art History & Film Studies, University of Sydney, Australia

The Future of Past Performances: Unstable Documents and Preserving the Behavious of Event Based Artworks
Paul Clarke, Live Art Archives, University of Bristol, UK

Between Tragedy and Farce: the Performance Archive
Ray Langenbach, Artist, USA/Malaysia

Performance Art as Reflection of Contemporary Culture and Social History
Farah Wardani, Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Indonesia

Artist, Researcher and Something In-between
wen yau, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong

Martha Wilson: Staging the Self (Transformations, Invasions, and Pushing Boundaries)
Martha Wilson, Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., USA


Key topics for group discussions:

  • Archiving and counter-archiving practices
  • Specificity of performance art archives
  • Complexities and contracdictions in archiving the ephemeral 
  • New hsitories, or the archive as revisionist history
  • The archive and the body
  • Issues related to digitisation
  • Re-enactment as a means of revitalising history?

Relevant content

Brother Cane (Video Stills)
The Ray Langenbach Archive of Performance Art

The Ray Langenbach Archive of Performance Art

Action Script: Symposium on Performance Art Practice and Documentation in Asia

Action Script: Symposium on Performance Art Practice and Documentation in Asia

Thu–Mon, 21–25 Oct 2010