Week 1: The archive then and now

The first week is devoted to general aspects of performance art archives and documentation. We will discuss various forms of archives and documentation practices ranging from historic to contemporary and think about 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.

Week 2: Translations and transformations

The second week is devoted to the 'transformation' pf performative practice into different media. Examples of 'objects' of performance art, their relation to performative activity and their ability (or lack of) to translate a performative act and its context are discussed. We will consider how performance art can take on different forms of existence as installations, artists books, or static images and investigate into how these media are able to reflect a work's core idea and context of practice. Students will be introduced to non-material, body-based based forms of archiving such as memory or storytelling and prompted to develop a critical outlook on the notion of document-based archiving and its cultural implications.

Week 3: Performing the archive

During the third week, we will analyze examples of exhibiting performance art in the institutionalized context and discuss in how far it reinforces or is able to untether binaries and hierarchies traditionally present between performance art and its archives. Through several case studies, we will discuss artistic approaches to turn archives into performative entities themselves be it through the activation of documentation or through reperformance, restagings or reappropriations.  

Week 4: Final presentations / Performance art and the institutionalized artworld

Drawing from the content and discussions of weeks 1-3, participants will be asked to choose one of their works and present it in its documentational or archival form for the final week. Scholars will be asked to share a concept for the presentation of a work of performance art in an exhibition setting or in writing. We will end the course with a discussion of the relation between performance art and the institutionalized art world, considering the practices employed by institutes in collecting and preserving performance art and its archives for the future.