Dr JULIE BACON, Researcher, Interface: Centre for Art, Technologies and Design, School of Art and Design, University of Ulster.
Performance, not remaining
Performance art is sometimes described as an ephemeral art praxis. I would like to look at what this means, notably its poetic and political significance, in light of the ways in which the life of a performance - its event - may be extended in other frameworks and situations. There has, for instance: been an increase in the volume of writing about performance, a rise in the quantity of visual documents available, a mounting desire to create archives of performance and its interdisciplinary forms, and discussion of appropriate ways to do this. Much of this work is produced in institutional settings, in the context of the larger evolving economy of 'research', which includes the expansion of practice-based doctorates. Some of this work is undertaken by individual practitioners, who may participate in networks, form associations or collectives and self-organise. Some of this work takes place elsewhere.
I am interested considering the different realms in which the life of the performance is extended, indeed in thinking about the phrase 'the life of the performance'. How and where does it remain and why? A question of form, modes, vocabularies, locations, bodies and motivations. This consideration touches on the feedback between performances and documents/objects, but also leads on to an assessment of how this extension of interdisciplinary performance praxis figures in the wider context of attitudes to, and operations of, framing, recording, translation and storing; in a culture of proliferation where forms of surveying, surveillance and monitoring impact on mobility, exchanges, encounters and living conditions at large. For better or worse, but who agreed to the contract?
In a related light, I will propose that something of the relationship between performances and archives can be explored by employing performance processes in existing archives, in the collections and spaces of museums. In turn, something of these spaces is made manifest and put into action when performances take place there. Finally, I will comment on the particular relationships between materials, actions and bodies over time, conveyed by performance-installation, or installations, where the necessity to remake, and the reality of composition/decomposition, informs our imagination of another a documentary realm.
Since 1994 Julie Bacon (b.1972) has presented performances and installations worldwide in formal art frameworks and a variety of sites. Simultaneously, she has participated in, coordinated and curated events within, artist collectives and artist-run organisations including The General Consul for the Nomad Territories of England, Hull Time Based Arts, Espace Virtuel and Le Lieu (Québec), and Catalyst Arts, Belfast, where she recently curated the international performance art Biennial FIX04. She writes about art, and completed a MA in Fine Art at the Université de Québec à Chicoutimi. She is currently based in Belfast, where she works as a researcher at Interface, and is finishing a PhD at the University of Ulster, entitled `Re-collecting the poetry and politics of archival spaces: an exploration of performance and installation art in ethnographic museums'.