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Fiche de veille (Événement) :

Live Art Documentation: Responsibility of the artist? - The National Review of Live Art - Roundtable (Glasgow, Scotland, February 9 2007)

Titre de l'événement
Capturing the past, preserving the future: Digitising the NRLA video archive
Date de début
Friday February 9, 2007
Date de fin
11-1:30 pm
Lieu de l'événement
The National Review of Live Art, Held at Tramway, Glasgow Scotland
Type d'événement
Mode de participation
2- Documentation des arts médiatiques

Veilleur : Tagny Duff

Roundtable discussion with moderator Barry Parsons ( Research Associate, National Review of Live Art Video Archive digitisation project University of Bristol), Dr Deirdre Heddon (University of Glasgow) and Michael Mayhew (NRLA honorary associate), and various artists from the festival and interested public.

Since its inception at the end of the 70s, the National Review of Live Art has featured the presentation of performance and live art. An extensive archive of video documentation of performances, installations, talks and interviews has been collected on various video formats, and arguably underutilized by researchers and interested public(s). The archive was recently donated to the Live Art Archives situated at the University of Bristol in order to insure the conservation of these documents. An informal public roundtable discussion moderated by Barry Parsons, held at Tramway during this year's National Live Art Review Festival, discussed issues relating to the problem of documenting and migrating documentation of live art. (Note: Live art is a term used in the UK and is synonymous with performance art).

Among the many discussions that ensued, two stand out in relation to concerns raised by DOCAM researchers. Foremost, the question of the artists responsibility in the documentation and conservation of their work has particular resonance. Secondly, the use of new technologies in the proliferation of performance art documentation on the WWW and user generated platforms like You Tube and Blogger, is of relevance.

The general consensus that formed early on in the discussion was that artists engaging with live art practices can have a large role in determining the form and manner that works are documented and archived. Researchers and conservationists from the Live Art Archive expressed their interest in working with artists and understanding their intention for the conservation of live art works- a similar sentiment also echoed in DOCAM discussions around conserving variable media works. However, various artists also raised concern about the growing pressure to produce documents of performance and manage their own archival material. Artists are increasingly required to produce electronic documents of performance works for funding and exhibition venues in the UK and Canada, and this fact has been a point of contention with artists working in this field. Michael Mayhew, one of UK's prolific and senior performance artists very clearly refuted the current emphasis and pressure for artists to document and conserve their work. He argued that it was his job, as an artist working in performance, to "breathe". In other words, Mayhew advocates for artist to create performance without having the additional requirement of being an archivist or videographer. Far from rejecting these practices or connoting a technophobic perspective, Mayhew advocated for collaboration between cultural intermediaries such as videographers, conservationists and archivists. Mayhew noted the successful collaboration he has had with a videographer who has documented most of his performances over the years.

Mayhew's comments articulate a current need for cultural intermediaries such as art historians, conservationists, and archivists to consider new working methodologies for collaborating with artists on documentation and conservation strategies during the creation and presentation of live artwork. This is in stark contrast with current methodologies that document and preserve documentation of live art without consulting with the artist. This is the case with performance festivals. Often documentation of live art, most frequently video documentation, is collected according to standards that facilitate funding applications, publicity functions and the accumulation of unedited archival "rushes". How to disseminate the document as accessible and relevant archival document to interested public(s) such as educational centres, researchers and other stakeholders still remains unanswered. The need to consider new formats and methodologies for documenting performance, other than video and photography, is an area in need of further study and development.

The second point discussed- the use and proliferation of networked wireless technologies in the documentation of performance might have provided some new ideas for documentation practices. However, a polemic discussion ensued which did stall a potentially productive session. Many roundtable observers voiced concerns over audiences documenting performance with cell phones. The use of mobile technologies and web 2.0 user-generated platforms in the "pirating" and the viral distribution of live art documentation prompted vigorous debate. Mary Brennan, a critic from The Herald (Glasgow) argued for the strict control over the representation and "mediation" of performances. She among other roundtable audience members argued that the proliferation of documents on the WWW devalued the authenticity of performance and infringed on copyright, intellectual property and the "authentic" expression of the artist. This perspective was challenged by other observers who noted that the use of wireless and networked technologies may offer new ways of conceiving of documents and archival access that challenge traditional copyright and audience participation through notions of share-alike and fair sharing licensing. You Tube and the posting of cell phone video documentation of performances was noted as a potentially effective way to bring new audiences to the practice.

This discussion reflects current polarized debates that circulate in the fields of live art, ranging from Peggy Phelan's argument for keeping performance "pure" and unmediated by documentation, to Philip Auslander's theory that the live event is itself no longer necessary as its performative documents (usually in the form of electronic media) produce audiences. Rather than focus on polarized argumentation, there is a need to find methods to remember live art works that acknowledge the relationship of both the live event and its documentation. This requires artists, documentors, conservationists and archivists to work collaboratively to share resources and skill sets. It may also be fruitful to research the potential for networked platforms and folksonomic structuring to engage new audiences and methods of archiving.

Liens :
National Review of Live Art Festival
Online (Page consulted March 30, 2007)
Live Art Archives
Online (Page consulted March 30, 2007)

Auslander, Philip
"The Performativity of Performance Documentation" PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art - PAJ 84 (Volume 28, Number 3), September 2006, pp. 1-10.The MIT Press
PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 28.3 (2006) 1-10

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