Week 1: General aspects

The first week is devoted to general aspects of performance art archives and documentation. We will analyze various forms of archives and documentation practices and the ambivalent relation between the ephemeral nature of performance art and its material components. We will consider the great variety of materials that comprise an archive and the range of constituents that influence and ultimately comprise the creation, execution, and documentation of performance works. A reading assignment will be given.

Week 2: Conservation of ephemeral art

The second week is devoted to the collection and conservation of ephemeral art. We will consider the possibilities and challenges conservation institutes, research institutes, libraries, or galleries face in hosting and preserving the material traces of ephemeral art. Relevant projects developed around the preservation and study of performance art documentation will be discussed. A short assignment will be given in preparation for week 3.

Week 3: Performance art archives and documentation in curatorial and artistic practice

Forms of exhibition, re-enactments, or re-appropriation of archival material are the main focus of week 3. Students will learn about different approaches to include performance art documentation in curatorial concepts. Furthermore, we will look at ways how performance art’s material components have been and can be incorporated into artistic practice, forms of reenactment or reuse of notes, drawings, images, props and so forth. A short written assignment will be given in preparation for week 4.

Week 4: Contemporary technology and the archive

Week 4 will circle around the question of how new technologies influence the documentation of ephemeral work and what they mean for the concept of the archive. Various case studies and examples will be given to sensitize students to the possibilities and problems of contemporary documentation technology and their meaning for performative practice and scholarly investigation of performance art. We will address related questions such as how physical traces of ephemeral work influence, hinder, or further the study of performance art and the discipline’s inscription into history.