AN ARCHIVE OF PERFORMANCE ART
Selected and curated by Blaž Lukan
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM, Ljubljana
Archival space at The Present and Presence – Repetition 1, Repetition 2, Repetition 3 exhibition
17 April – 7 October 2012
List of artists in the archive:
Boris Benčič, Matjaž Berger, Marko Brecelj, Borghesia, Božidar Dolenc, Srečo Dragan, Eclipse, FV 112/15, Samo Gosarič, Gledališče Ane Monró, Gledališče Odprti krog, Gledališče Sester Scipion Nasice, Hidrogizma, Janez Janša (Emil Hrvatin), Marko Košnik, Marko A. Kovačič, Ema Kugler, Lela B. Njatin, Linije sile, Marko Peljhan, Podjetje za proizvodnjo fikcije, Pocestno gledališče Predrazpadom, Vlado Repnik Gotvan, Skupina OHO, Jane Štravs, Igor Štromajer in Brane Zorman, Ive Tabar, Teater Performance, Irena Tomažin, Via negativa
This archive of (Slovenian) performance art is not an archive in the standard sense of the word, that is to say, a collection of documents of historical value, but a form of presenting performance art with documents – framing performances as artworks – which have the status of artworks themselves. Few of the exhibited documents are just faithful recordings of the actual performances; far more frequently a photograph or video is seen as a possible way of creating new performative content and context. The material is therefore notably heterogeneous: there are live (also television) transmissions of performative events; raw recordings for/on various audio and visual media (VHS, DVD, CD); recordings of entire events or just excerpts from them edited into new, independent wholes; and, finally, video recordings used as raw material for producing new works of art, often a mix giving an overview, some kind of para-performance representing a re-enactment of the original performance, a re-performance.
This archive of performance art must also be understood quite broadly as a collection of experimental and performative practices or examples of performance art as it has developed in Slovenia since the second half of the 1960s, following the so-called performative turn. There are only a handful of performances in the original sense of the word – and before that, happenings – at the exhibition. All the other works follow what Fischer-Lichte calls the aesthetics of the performative, which carries the performative over into new formats, or are based on the recent, looser notion of performance, deriving, among others, from Marina Abramović’s recent performative practice. Gathered in this archive there are examples of one-off performative events, re-enactments, street performances where the different constellations of the audience defy the structure of reconstruction, video manipulations which play with the subject of live performances, videos based on performances, video performances that have the appearance of being live performances but have only ever been performed in the “fake” medium, and finally, performative practices that overlap with or border on the aesthetics of postdramatic theater.
Despite its arbitrary nature, An Archive of Performance Art tries to encompass the broadest possible array of Slovenian experimental and performative practices both in time – starting with the performances of the OHO group (1968) and going as far as the Janez Janšas reconstructions (2011) – and in genre and form. The events selected have taken place in interiors such as galleries and theaters and social hubs, and in urban and rural exteriors; they are mass or individual; evolving in time or frozen in installations; explicitly (nationally) political or mythologically manifest; referring to recognizable reality or merely to the body and intimate issues or even just themselves; exploring the performance phenomenon in its entirety or just in its one particular manifestation; excluding with technology (human) nature or playing up its (ritualistic) role; conceptually planned or spontaneous and improvised; original or repeated (reconstructed); and so on. An Archive of Performance Art at the MSUM thus vibrates like a live apparatus of the event, the knowledge, and the memory, rearticulating in the gallery setting its originary performativity.
Special thanks: For their kind help with collecting the material I would like to thank all the authors of the performances, of the videos and the audio recordings, the editors, the custodians of archives and collections (Eva Rohrman, Miha Grum), the owners of artworks (Marijan Zlobec), and Maska for lending the printed materials.
Text by Blaž Lukan