Everything Performs

/International Roun­d­table about Per­for­man­ce art/

An inter­nati­o­nal mee­ting of the­o­rists, his­to­ri­ans and cura­tors of per­for­man­ce art took pla­ce on Novem­ber 1st 2021 via the Zoom plat­form. The following atten­ded the event (in alpha­be­ti­cal order): Annet­te Arlan­der (FI), Amy Bry­z­gel (UK), Łukasz Guzek (PL), Nora Haakh (DE), Maxi­mi­li­an Leh­ner (AT) and Jana Orlo­vá (CZ), who was the organizer.

The round table has poin­ted out how diver­se opi­ni­ons about per­for­man­ce are, as well as the fact that many the­o­rists and practi­ti­o­ners in the field have not yet asked many ques­ti­ons about the natu­re of per­for­man­ce or its dif­fe­ren­ces from the­a­ter. Fine-arts his­to­ri­ans such as Amy Bry­z­gel and Łukasz Guzek were crys­tal clear that per­for­man­ce art is part of the his­to­ry of fine arts, whi­le the views of tho­se who are in con­tact with the the­a­ter sce­ne or per­for­man­ce stu­dies were much more cau­ti­ous. The deba­te also showed the dif­fe­ren­ce between „old scho­ol per­for­man­ce art” (Annet­te Arlan­der) and newer appro­a­ches. Dif­fe­rent views have emer­ged on whe­ther the per­for­man­ce can be dele­ga­ted, whe­ther the con­text is a suf­fi­ci­ent dis­tingu­ishing fea­tu­re and whe­ther it needs to be defi­ned at all. Given that the­re were some­ti­mes misun­der­stan­dings among the deba­ters caused by ter­mi­no­lo­gi­cal devi­ati­ons, the effort to find typi­cal fea­tu­res of per­for­man­ce seems to be necessa­ry for the further deve­lo­p­ment of the field. The­re has also been a ten­den­cy to move per­for­man­ce art onto the stage, which is caused by artists and cura­tors making prag­ma­tic effort to use the­a­ter grants and fun­ding (which is more gene­rous) and by the­a­ters to expand the­ir reper­toi­re. Sug­ges­ti­ons have also been made regar­ding the metho­do­lo­gy to be used when exa­mi­ning per­for­man­ce during the discussion.

Regi­na Frank: L Adieu Pearls befo­re Gods, New York 1993
(Pho­to: Face­book Verlag)

The­a­t­re and dan­ce ver­sus per­for­man­ce art

Jana Orlo­vá: Good after­no­on, eve­ry­o­ne. I am glad to see you here! Thank you for taking the time to par­ti­ci­pa­te in this event. Let me intro­du­ce myself brie­fly. I’m a resear­cher focusing on the dif­fe­ren­ce between per­for­man­ce art and the­a­t­re and I’ve invi­ted you as you are all well-known scho­lars in the field coming from dif­fe­rent Euro­pe­an countries.

I don’t want to talk much about my work, I’d rather dis­cuss our sha­red points of inte­rest. We come from dif­fe­rent bac­kgrounds, which I think is gre­at. We can con­front dif­fe­rent points of view. We can start with the basic ques­ti­on: What is per­for­man­ce or per­for­man­ce art for you? I am using the term visu­al per­for­man­ce as well, which accor­ding to Claire Bis­hop means per­for­man­ce done by visu­al artists. I feel like we need this dis­tincti­on, as per­for­man­ce art is a very broad term and it’s beco­me really unclear over the last few years what we’re tal­king about when tal­king about per­for­man­ce. Hen­ce this term “visu­al per­for­man­ce”. For exam­ple, in the Czech Repub­lic the term per­for­man­ce is used for alter­na­ti­ve the­a­t­re, part­ly as there’s a gene­ral trouble with the word per­for­man­ce for spe­a­kers who don’t have Eng­lish as the­ir mother lan­gu­age. Throu­gh my research I’ve come across with a lot of misun­der­stan­dings and misuse of the word. On the other hand, many the­a­t­re the­o­rists claim visu­al per­for­man­ce to be part of the­a­t­re. Visu­al the­o­rists are con­vin­ced that visu­al per­for­man­ce belon­gs to visu­al art… So to begin with, I’d like to know your opi­ni­ons. What do per­for­man­ce, per­for­man­ce art and visu­al per­for­man­ce mean to you?

Amy Bry­z­gel: I think the line between expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce is qui­te thin. I mean, we have exam­ples whe­re per­for­man­ce (what we con­si­der a visu­al per­for­man­ce) did come out of a sort of expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re tra­di­ti­on. One exam­ple is Tade­u­sz Kan­tor in Poland, althou­gh he was a the­a­t­re direc­tor, but the per­for­man­ce art genre was refe­ring to him, he was an influ­en­cer and also a sour­ce. Also, the Jud­son Church (Jud­son Dan­ce The­a­t­re) in New York, the New York sce­ne isn’t really my area of spe­ci­a­li­sati­on, but it seems the­re was a lot hap­pe­ning at the same time in the six­ties and seven­ties and it was all very mixed. I mean, the­re were peo­ple like Allan Kap­row who was a visu­al artist, but he was wor­king with John Cage, who was a musi­ci­an, and, you know, and then the­re were things going on at Jud­son Church, and I think they were all con­nec­ted a litt­le. So this his­to­ri­cal line to me does seem a bit blur­ry in terms of expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce art.

Annet­te Arlan­der: I have to say, I am more of an artist than a scho­lar and I usu­ally wri­te about my own work. However, I spent many years as pro­fes­sor of per­for­man­ce art and the­o­ry in Hel­sin­ki (2001 – 2013) and it was within the con­text of the the­a­t­re aca­de­my. So it was my dai­ly busi­ness to try to defi­ne the dis­tincti­on between per­for­man­ce art and the­a­t­re, which was very exhaus­ting. At some point I chan­ged the name of the pro­gram to Live Art and Per­for­man­ce stu­dies in order to make things easier in that con­text. So, I under­stand the need to defi­ne con­cepts, but I’ve come to feel that the mea­nings of some terms chan­ge over the years. For instan­ce, toward the end of eigh­ties Joset­te Feral spe­aks of per­for­man­ce art as a kind of expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re or a less tra­di­ti­o­nal the­a­t­re. Also Mar­vin Carl­son did the same in his ear­lier wri­ting. So it’s very con­fusing because it’s not the way tho­se words are used today. But were I to men­ti­on a very good, almost cari­ca­tu­re-like dis­tincti­on between the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce, that would be a text by Mari­lyn Arsem. She has writ­ten some­thing like a mani­fes­to for per­for­man­ce art for a fes­ti­val in Veni­ce 2011. She made a list of dif­fe­ren­ces, like the use of real time as oppo­sed to narra­ti­ve time, the use of the artist’s own body as oppo­sed to other people’s bodies, the use of risk taking and many other things. (Per­for­man­ce art is now, per­for­man­ce art is real, per­for­man­ce art requi­res risk, per­for­man­ce art is not an invest­ment object, per­for­man­ce art is ephe­me­ral.) Not all per­for­man­ce artists would agree with this of cour­se, as they work in dif­fe­rent ways, but I think it’s very use­ful. It can be found in the archi­ve of the jour­nal Total Art.

Orlo­vá: In my case the need to dis­tingu­ish comes also from my posi­ti­on as an artist con­fron­ted with the the­a­t­re sce­ne. And I felt the urge to defi­ne what I’m doing and why it is not the­a­t­re. Because if it were the­a­t­re, it should be eva­lua­ted as the­a­t­re… But if you try to eva­lua­te visu­al per­for­man­ce as the­a­t­re, it sim­ply doesn’t work, because they work on dif­fe­rent basis.

Nora Haakh: I think I have a lot in com­mon here with other peo­ple as in I have a PhD., I’m an artist and a resear­cher, but I’m also wor­king in the per­for­ming arts as a dra­ma­tur­ge. So as dra­ma­tur­ge espe­ci­ally I’m fami­li­ar with the pro­ces­ses of transla­ting practi­ce into descrip­ti­ons that are necessa­ry. Why? Because the­re are cer­ta­in con­texts in which labels are necessa­ry, usu­ally apply­ing for fun­ding or mar­ke­ting a pie­ce to fit into the pro­gra­m­me or aesthe­tic visi­on of a cer­ta­in plat­form and to pre­sent it to an audi­en­ce. So what I’ve noti­ced the­re is, as you said, peo­ple doing stuff and they might call it per­for­man­ce, as it’s a term con­si­de­red to be a more open thing My own practi­ce that I some­ti­mes descri­be as per­for­man­ce comes from a who­le dif­fe­rent field, the field of gra­phic recor­ding, gra­phic faci­li­tati­on of gene­ra­ti­ve scri­bing in which basi­cally live visu­a­li­sati­on is used to har­vest collecti­ve pro­ces­ses of bra­in­stor­ming, and this can take pla­ce in collecti­ve cre­a­ti­ve pro­ces­ses in the arts, but also in peda­go­gi­cal, poli­ti­cal and also cor­po­ra­te con­texts. The­re is this beau­ti­ful per­son called Kel­vy Bird who has been deve­lo­ping an appro­ach called Gene­ra­ti­ve Scri­bing. I find it inte­res­ting that even thou­gh the practi­ce could be very clo­se, it is one exam­ple of fields not really in con­ver­sati­on with each other. So as a practi­cing Gra­phic Recor­der, how I use live visu­a­li­sati­on in per­for­man­ce inclu­des brin­ging tools back from a con­text that is not pri­ma­ri­ly the artis­tic spa­ce into the artis­tic spa­ce via per­for­man­ce pro­jects in which I participate.

Alastair MacLen­nan, Fes­ti­val Live Acti­on, Göte­borg 2006.
(foto: Rolf Broberg)

Ques­ti­ons of authenticity

Orlo­vá: I feel like it would be good to point out that in coun­tries whe­re Eng­lish is not the first lan­gu­age the­re is often trouble with the term per­for­man­ce itself, because it is used very broadly and fre­e­ly. It’s for­got­ten that per­for­man­ce is in gene­ral mea­ning some kind of acti­on, and at the same time an out­put: in a sen­se the performance/ out­put of a manager or a car (how the car is quick and the manager pro­ducti­ve). Gene­rally, you can sim­ply per­form (do things) in eve­ry­day life too… we are per­for­ming at this very moment; however it is not an artis­tic per­for­man­ce. And in artis­tic per­for­man­ce, there’s a dis­tincti­on between per­for­ming arts based on pro­fes­si­o­na­li­ty, rehear­sals and repe­ti­ti­ons (i.e. the­a­t­re, dan­ce, music) and per­for­man­ce art/visual per­for­man­ce. Visu­al per­for­mers are deskilled in per­for­ming arts and they don’t cre­a­te pie­ces in terms of rehear­sals and repe­ti­ti­ons. Author rea­ding is also a kind of artis­tic per­for­man­ce, which doesn’t belong in the per­for­ming arts. May­be here we can start tal­king about the dif­fe­ren­ces between visu­al per­for­man­ce and theatre…

Amy Bry­z­gel: I was just thin­king about the impor­tan­ce of authen­ti­ci­ty within per­for­man­ce art. I find it hel­p­ful with my stu­dents because they come to class thin­king of the per­for­ming arts or per­for­man­ces that are repe­a­ted and rehear­sed etc. And it’s not that per­for­man­ce art is never repe­a­ted because, of cour­se, we know that per­for­man­ce artists will do things many times. But it’s per­ha­ps more about the authen­ti­ci­ty of expres­si­on. When you’re acting, you are try­ing to have an authen­tic expres­si­on too, but it’s not really meant to be your own. It’s the cha­rac­ter, and I’m spe­a­king very strict here. But I think it’s inte­res­ting if you look at some­o­ne like Mari­na Abra­mo­vić because she’s done both. She’s done per­for­man­ce art and she’s done more the­a­t­ri­cal type stuff, and it’s really her ear­lier work whe­re I think you can see the authen­ti­ci­ty, that I think is so impor­tant for per­for­man­ce art, whe­re­as her later stuff I think is somewhe­re between the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce art, and in my opi­ni­on, it’s just not as good.

Mari­na Abra­mo­vic: Artist is Pre­sent: The Muse­um of Modern Art 2010
(Pho­to: Shel­by Lessig)

Orlo­vá: I was thin­king about authen­ti­ci­ty a lot in my research, because a lot of resear­chers use authen­ti­ci­ty to dis­tingu­ish per­for­man­ce and the­a­t­re, say­ing that per­for­man­ce is authen­tic and the­a­t­re isn’t. However in the end I think this who­le con­cept of authen­ti­ci­ty is not satis­fac­to­ry enou­gh, as visu­al per­for­man­ce is not fully authen­tic either. And on the other hand, the­re can be authen­ti­ci­ty in the­a­t­re too: within its ficti­o­nal world. In the real-world authen­ti­ci­ty usu­ally ari­ses when some­thing unex­pec­ted hap­pens (you are sur­pri­sed, con­fused, or shocked). From my point of view, these are moments of real authen­ti­ci­ty, we can call them “frag­ments of authen­ti­ci­ty”. And inde­ed, in visu­al per­for­man­ce the ran­ge of authen­ti­ci­ty is much broa­der than in the­a­t­re, because the­a­t­re is con­sti­tu­ted by rehear­sals and repe­ti­ti­ons. That’s why the­re is not so much spa­ce for (frag­men­ted) authenticity.

Arlan­der: I feel like authen­ti­ci­ty is a the­a­t­ri­cal term. Actors are alwa­ys inte­res­ted in see­ming authen­tic. I’ve never heard of expe­ri­en­ced per­for­man­ce artists stri­ving to be authen­tic. They are try­ing to be real. I think awk­ward­ness is much more inte­res­ting in terms of per­for­man­ce art. We could per­ha­ps think in terms of cen­t­ral valu­es in tra­di­ti­o­nal per­for­man­ce art and the cen­t­ral valu­es in tra­di­ti­o­nal the­a­t­re. Then we have many over­lap­ping forms and mix­tu­res. Some per­for­man­ce artists use very the­a­t­ri­cal tools in the sen­se of not being exag­ge­ra­ted. They dress up or use some sort of imper­so­nati­on, for instan­ce. But one of the core con­cerns in old-scho­ol per­for­man­ce art is that the acti­on invol­ves real time. So if it takes 20 minu­tes to do some­thing, it takes 20 minu­tes, even if it’s very boring for the audi­en­ce. In the­a­t­re, you would tell the sto­ry and jump to the conclusi­on or some­thing like that.

The Body

Arlan­der: Ano­ther ques­ti­on, which is some­how cen­t­ral and alwa­ys con­fusing for the­a­t­re peo­ple, is that it’s the artist’s body that’s in the fore­ground. So you can’t ask some­bo­dy else to make a per­for­man­ce. It’s you. You make the artwork. Of cour­se, the­re are excep­ti­ons. (Mari­na Abra­mo­vić being one exam­ple, when she was asking young artists to make rema­kes of her works and so on.) But in gene­ral, if you think of a, for instan­ce, a pain­ter who sud­den­ly wants to make a per­for­man­ce, they’re usu­ally very awk­ward, and they step in front of the audi­en­ce and do some­thing like a pain­ting for them, they do it live in the moment and they sha­re the pro­cess of the making of the painting.

Bry­z­gel: But isn’t that exact­ly how Allan Kap­row star­ted? He moved from pain­ting to performance…

Arlan­der: In a lot of the ear­ly works he made installati­ons, spread pain­ting into the room, rather than using his own body or doing it live. And then he made hap­pe­nings, of cour­se, which are not the same as per­for­man­ce art, but yeah…

Haakh: I just want to say one sen­ten­ce to pro­ble­ma­ti­ze the con­cept of authen­ti­ci­ty, because in my expe­ri­en­ce, in the post-colo­nial times we’re living in, authen­ti­ci­ty is often used as a cri­te­ri­on to assess the assu­med clo­se­ness of somebody’s iden­ti­ty to how they are per­ce­i­ved by an audi­en­ce. And this con­cept is usu­ally used as a cri­te­ri­on for the non-whi­te body more often than for whi­te bodies etc. So I con­si­der it a qui­te pro­ble­ma­tic con­cept and I’d like to sug­gest right now that we use the con­cept of impro­vi­sati­on inste­ad in order to grasp the point that is being explo­red here. Impro­vi­sati­on is, of cour­se, a com­mon ele­ment in the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce art and also other artis­tic practi­ses. A recor­ding of Joni Mit­chell came to my mind to expla­in this. At one of her con­certs, she was intro­du­cing a song and she took a moment to ground and cen­t­re her­self befo­re she can sing the song that she wro­te and she just expla­i­ned to the audi­en­ce why she needs this moment. She said, to sing the song here is like to ask Vin­cent van Gogh to paint “The Star­ry Night” aga­in in front of an audience.

Le Tas Invi­si­ble, Que­bec City, Sep­tem­ber 16, 2017
(Pho­to: Art in Life)

Dele­ga­ted performance

Orlo­vá: It’s very refre­shing to rea­li­se how we are thin­king about cer­ta­in things a bit dif­fe­rent­ly. For exam­ple, Annet­te, you tal­ked about per­for­mers using the­ir own body only, but we’ve got dele­ga­ted per­for­man­ce here. So it’s not possi­ble to use it as a strong argument.

Arlan­der: But that’s the dif­fe­ren­ce, can we have dele­ga­ted per­for­man­ce art? We can out­sour­ce authen­ti­ci­ty, as Bis­hop says, but can you really dele­ga­te per­for­man­ce art? Well, may­be you say we can, but I’m old-scho­ol. Per­ha­ps we could dis­tingu­ish between per­for­man­ce and per­for­man­ce art? But if some­bo­dy wants to call it dele­ga­ted per­for­man­ce art, that’s fine. But if all kinds of per­for­man­ces made in an artis­tic con­text are per­for­man­ce art, then I also under­stand artists who then say, well, I don’t make per­for­man­ce art, I make acti­on art. I sug­gest inste­ad of thin­king of terms that car­ry mea­ning, we could think about the artists as tho­se who car­ry mea­nings or groups of artists or his­to­ri­cal phe­no­me­na, rather than spe­ci­fic words. So, it’s dif­ficult to find one word and agree on how that word should be used. That’s my point of view.

Maxi­mi­li­an Leh­ner: I very much like your thou­ght of not narrowing it down to one exclusi­ve defi­ni­ti­on. At the same time, I was sur­pri­sed when you added that the body of the per­for­mer would be what ties toge­ther the idea of per­for­man­ce art…

Arlan­der: In tra­di­ti­o­nal per­for­man­ce art it’s not the body of the per­for­mer, but rather the body of the artist, the body of the artist who’s not a performer.

Leh­ner: Thanks for the cla­ri­fi­cati­on. And what about the non-dele­gati­on of the per­for­man­ce? Couldn’t a con­cept be carried out by some­bo­dy else…

Old scho­ol

Arlan­der: I mean, in the old times the situati­on was dif­fe­rent. And if we use the word per­form, even electrons per­form. So eve­ry­thing per­forms. Plants per­form, tre­es per­form. Of cour­se, poli­ti­ci­ans per­form and peo­ple per­form other spe­cies, and so on. But I meant to make an exam­ple of clas­sic old scho­ol per­for­man­ce art, which tried to dif­fe­ren­ti­a­te itself from other types of per­for­man­ces. And that was by means of the artist’s, not the performer’s body, but the artist going in front of the audi­en­ce. Inste­ad of making a sculp­tu­re at home and then showing the sculp­tu­re they would enter the stage and beco­me the sculp­tu­re, you under­stand? So this is his­to­ri­cal. I’m not clai­ming that this is true to date, and we should stick to that. So sor­ry for con­fusing the debate.

Leh­ner: Okay, this was the misun­der­stan­ding. But even his­to­ri­cally, I’d say, if you think of Mer­ce Cun­ningham and John Cage’s per­for­man­ces: tho­se were not the­ir per­for­man­ces on stage. They were dele­ga­ting it, even let­ting degre­es of fre­e­dom to the per­for­mers on stage, most­ly for cre­a­ting the­ir per­for­man­ces. So I thou­ght about how we can even ask such ques­ti­ons about per­for­man­ce art in today’s visu­al art field. I think it leads to the point whe­re we have to think further towards ide­as of post-con­cep­tu­a­lism and post-medi­um. To tho­se practi­ces which are alwa­ys alrea­dy transgres­sing the­ir own boun­da­ries to defi­ne them­sel­ves. I couldn’t think of any defi­ni­ti­ve cri­te­ri­on to mark out what’s per­for­man­ce art or what’s per­for­man­ce art in con­trast to the­a­t­re. I just couldn’t ima­gi­ne what dimensi­on of tho­se defi­ni­ti­ons would then apply because alwa­ys, as soon as you look at the­a­t­re, you have an ele­ment of per­for­man­ce art that’s sud­den­ly more inte­res­ting to the the­a­t­re maker, and vice ver­sa. I’m really stru­g­g­ling to find anything.

Arlan­der: Well, Mer­ce Cun­ningham and John Cage didn’t do per­for­man­ce art, they cre­a­ted expe­ri­men­tal per­for­man­ces, but any­way. May­be it’s the con­text that makes the dif­fe­ren­ce. May­be it’s the con­text. I remem­ber a stu­dent of mine a long time ago who was making a per­for­man­ce with a thing that regis­ters the EEG from the bra­in and he was a musi­ci­an at the same time. But when he pre­sen­ted this in the black box stu­dio in the The­a­t­re Aca­de­my, the audi­en­ce thou­ght that it was a joke, an illusi­on, a repre­sen­tati­on. Nobo­dy belie­ved that it was a real tech­no­lo­gi­cal devi­ce. And that was the for­ce of the con­text, because in the the­a­t­ri­cal con­text, it would have made sen­se to take it as a joke. In a per­for­man­ce art venue the audi­en­ce would have expec­ted it to be real. So may­be we can think about it in terms of con­text rather than in terms of what the per­for­mer does.

The­a­t­re ver­sus per­for­man­ce art / 2nd time

Leh­ner: I really like that idea. Aga­in, the­re is the fra­mework pro­blem add­res­sed by Nora ear­lier, which con­stant­ly reap­pears between my work envi­ron­ments as a resear­cher and as a pro­du­cer for visu­al arts. On the side of the pro­du­cer, I have to accept impre­ci­se defi­ni­ti­ons: if you want the­a­t­re fun­ding, you’re going to sell a per­for­man­ce as the­a­t­re and the other way around. Even the­a­t­res seem to accept per­for­man­ce art because they want to cross the boun­da­ries of what they pre­sent. So sud­den­ly, visu­al art per­for­man­ce is moving onto the the­a­t­re stage and the­re­by com­ple­te­ly chan­ging its natu­re. This is why I keep stru­g­g­ling with these defi­ni­ti­ons, even with the con­text argu­ment which I con­si­der to be very useful.

Orlo­vá: I think it’s really impor­tant to think about it. It’s not appro­pri­a­te any­mo­re to say “well, per­for­man­ce art is some­thing in-between”. Or to sta­te we can’t defi­ne the genre because it will lose its power. If we’re wor­king in this field, as pro­du­cers or cura­tors, his­to­ri­ans or artists, we need to talk about it. Annet­te has con­tra­dic­ted her­self a litt­le, at one point she said that “all kinds of per­for­man­ces made in an artis­tic con­text are per­for­man­ce art” and then “Mer­ce Cun­ningham and John Cage didn’t do per­for­man­ce art, they cre­a­ted expe­ri­men­tal per­for­man­ces”. It´s also not just about the con­text. If you do the­a­t­re during per­for­man­ce art fes­ti­val, it is still theatre.

Haakh: It now follows from our con­ver­sati­on, but I just thou­ght that one thing rele­vant for per­for­man­ce has to do with put­ting some­thing out of con­text. Which brings about this awk­ward­ness, actu­ally, and I think it is also navi­ga­ting how dif­fe­rent artis­tic fields functi­on both as labo­ra­to­ries that encou­rage artis­tic deve­lo­p­ment, but also as mar­kets that functi­on with dif­fe­rent labels. For exam­ple taking a the­a­t­ri­cal tool and put­ting it into a visu­al art spa­ce will chan­ge how it is per­ce­i­ved. And will invi­te dif­fe­rent labels that will allow the artist and the artis­tic practi­ce a dif­fe­rent kind of mobi­li­ty. And more mobi­li­ty usu­ally when it’s in a con­text that’s not so use­ful for cer­ta­in tools.

Visu­al Performance

Łukasz Guzek: I’d like to intro­du­ce myself now and sha­re my points of view. I’m a scho­lar wor­king at the Aca­de­my of Fine Arts in Gdan­sk. I’m try­ing to transfer my knowled­ge to stu­dents-artists and let them use it for the­ir art practi­ce. We’ve also got edu­cati­on pro­gra­m­mes in per­for­man­ce art and seve­ral artists gra­dua­ted as per­for­mers from our aca­de­my. And I wro­te a book about per­for­man­ce art in Poland, unfor­tu­na­te­ly it’s just in Polish. However, I’ve also writ­ten a few articles on this topic which are avai­la­ble in Eng­lish, so you can learn about my view­points and methodology.

Referring to the begin­ning of our con­ver­sati­on about the noti­on of visu­al per­for­man­ce, it seems to me a very inte­res­ting pro­po­si­ti­on for resear­chers, because desig­nati­ons like per­for­man­ce art come into our lan­gu­ages as spe­ci­fic terms, dif­fe­rent from the Eng­lish lin­gu­is­tic practi­ce in that they get ado­p­ted into our voca­bu­la­ry as artis­tic terms. The terms “per­for­man­ce” appea­red first in the field of visu­al art appro­xi­ma­te­ly at the end of seventies.

So for me, con­si­de­ring this term from the point of view of my research practi­ce, visu­al per­for­man­ce is kind of tau­to­lo­gy because per­for­man­ce art his­to­ri­cally belon­gs to visu­al arts and it is a practi­ce within the field of visu­al arts. And that’s some­thing I think I can sha­re with Jana, because we come from the same regi­on and some things are simi­lar in our expe­ri­en­ce, also in our poli­ti­cal his­to­ry. So for us it is obvi­ous that per­for­man­ce art is part of the visu­al-art field. But the­re is a “but”. Sin­ce per­for­man­ce stu­dies has ori­gi­na­ted, the term “per­for­man­ce” beca­me broa­der and is still exan­ding. For many artists, eve­ry­thing could be per­for­man­ce. This has alrea­dy been men­ti­o­ned in this dis­cus­si­on. However we keep try­ing to open up this kind of practi­ce to our art stu­dents. So as an art his­to­ri­an I’m aware of the his­to­ri­cal con­di­ti­ons and as a tea­cher I’m pushing the boun­da­ries, chec­king the limits of per­for­man­ce art.

Scho­lars like Car­son or Schech­ner refer to the visu­al arts only mar­gi­nally and ran­do­mly, using­per­for­man­ce art as an umbrel­la term, in a very unspe­ci­fic way and inaccu­ra­te­ly, hen­ce the­ir disre­spect to exis­ting art his­to­ri­cal dis­cour­se. And that’s why there’s a need for us now to dis­cuss this topic aga­in. That’s why this visu­al per­for­man­ce as a spe­ci­fic cate­go­ry of the dis­cour­se seems to me an inte­res­ting pro­po­si­ti­on for put­ting some order into ter­mi­no­lo­gy we use today stu­dy­ing per­for­man­ce art in light of per­for­man­ce stu­dies. Such a cla­ri­fi­cati­on seems to be ine­vi­table. We need to know the sub­ject of our stu­dy. And how to build a research methodology.

Arlan­der: Okay, I have to interrupt here because I’m engaged in per­for­man­ce stu­dies, and I think that’s a field com­ple­te­ly sepa­ra­te from per­for­man­ce art. So the­re are two dif­fe­rent things. And the idea that per­for­man­ce stu­dies is only the­a­t­re is a misun­der­stan­ding. It’s seven­ties per­for­man­ce stu­dies, which com­bi­ned expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re and anthro­po­lo­gy (Schech­ner and Tur­ner). In the nine­ties, per­for­man­ce stu­dies was deeply influ­en­ced by Peg­gy Phe­lan and her inter­pre­tati­on of per­for­man­ces is very dif­fe­rent. And I think today’s per­for­man­ce stu­dies is focused not on the­a­t­re at all, or not even on per­for­man­ce art any­mo­re, but on per­for­man­ce in an even broa­der sen­se, some­thing like per­for­ming code or wha­te­ver. Per­for­man­ce stu­dies is not of much help in the stu­dy of per­for­man­ce art. I think per­for­man­ce stu­dies is a very inte­res­ting field and I think it’s impor­tant. But if you want to stu­dy per­for­man­ce art or acti­on art or if you pre­fer visu­al per­for­man­ce, then per­for­man­ce stu­dies can be con­fusing because its main inte­rests lie out­si­de art, not within art.

Guzek: Well, the term per­for­ma­ti­vi­ty is used very often today after Eric­ka Ficher-Lich­te. This is a very use­ful pro­po­sal for descri­bing the field of per­for­man­ce today. But it’s hard to apply it to the past, that is to art-his­to­ri­cal stu­dies on per­for­man­ce art. A visu­al per­for­man­ce cate­go­ri­zati­on is inte­res­ting, as in the his­to­ry of art per­for­man­ce art was alwa­ys used as a genre cros­sing boun­da­ries between pain­ting, sculp­tu­re, film or the­a­t­re, sound or poet­ry, in the spi­rit of Flu­xus. This abi­li­ty is some­thing we can use also in con­tem­po­ra­ry dis­cus­si­ons about per­for­man­ce stu­dies and about this per­for­ma­ti­vi­ty, in the broa­dest sen­se possible.

And as for dele­ga­ted per­for­man­ce, this is also a kind of practi­ce con­stant­ly con­nec­ted with per­for­man­ce art as we’ve alrea­dy men­ti­o­ned Flu­xus ide­as and the con­cept of per­for­man­ce as a sco­re. So this sco­re can be licen­ced to other artists or can be given as a gift to per­form such a sco­re-acti­on, “event sco­re” as Ali­son Knowles has ter­med it. So the dele­ga­ted per­for­man­ce is – an impor­tant word here – a con­cep­tu­al practi­ce eve­ry­o­ne can use.

And also re-enact­ment practi­se that is some­thing that comes from the idea of archi­ving per­for­man­ces and other con­cep­tu­al and ephe­me­ral practi­ces. You have some evi­den­ce, some notes, some pho­tos, sco­res or sta­te­ments of artists from the past. And you can make a per­for­man­ce art pie­ce using all these tra­ces. These are today’s practi­ses which belong to the broad field of per­for­man­ce stu­dies. So that’s why I mean per­for­ma­ti­vi­ty and per­for­man­ce stu­dies are very use­ful to stu­dy con­tem­po­ra­ry art pie­ces. However to ena­ble deep research it should be more spe­ci­fic, for exam­ple to be cate­go­ri­zed by con­cepts like visu­al performance.

Per­for­man­ces for Camera

Arlan­der: I’m thin­king about that big con­fusi­on of the term per­for­ma­ti­vi­ty, which Bar­ba­ra Bolt has writ­ten about, sin­ce you’ve men­ti­o­ned Eri­ka Fischer-Lich­te. At a con­fe­ren­ce in 2008 she spo­ke of the actor’s per­for­man­ce , mea­ning the actors’ art of per­for­ming, and made eve­ry­bo­dy con­fused. But is this inte­res­ting for us now? I agree with eve­ry­thing you said about Flu­xus, about sco­res, etc. But if I think of what would be inte­res­ting to dis­cuss, from my per­specti­ve, it is the phra­se “visu­al per­for­man­ce”, which I think can be qui­te con­tro­ver­sial. Not per­ha­ps in the visu­al art world whe­re artists make per­for­man­ces, but in the tra­di­ti­o­nal per­for­man­ce art world, which is a sub­cul­tu­re. If we think of the lite­ral mea­ning of the word, then “visu­al” is a qua­li­ty of the per­for­man­ce, and it means a per­for­man­ce that is visu­al. But per­for­man­ce artists can make works that are more audi­ti­ve than visu­al, focused on move­ment, etc. And if you think of visu­al per­for­man­ce in the sen­se of per­for­man­ce made by a visu­al artist, a visu­al artist’s per­for­man­ce, then you defi­ne the work by the maker. Some peo­ple think I make visu­al per­for­man­ce, because I per­form for the came­ra, but audio-visu­al would be a bet­ter term. The ques­ti­on of per­for­man­ces for the came­ra, which have chan­ged com­ple­te­ly throu­gh the covid situati­on and the pan­de­mic, is reve­a­ling. Because even many tra­di­ti­o­nal per­for­man­ce artists or acti­on artists, who ear­lier dis­mis­sed per­for­man­ces for came­ra, now wan­ted a live audi­en­ce and an exchan­ge between the per­for­mer and the audience…

Guzek: As to this practi­ce, the per­for­man­ce for the came­ra, this is also a practi­ce of the seven­ties con­cep­tu­al art. So these post-pan­de­mic or during pan­de­mic per­for­man­ces are just con­tem­po­ra­ry exam­ples. As for Eri­ka Fischer-Lich­te and the­a­t­re, she talks about Jer­zy Grotowski’s unique pie­ce of the­a­t­re, and there’s also an appre­ti­ati­on for his actors (Rys­zard Cieslak) and arran­ge­ments on the stage, e.g. how the audi­en­ces sat very clo­se to the actor so they could feel the smell the actor’s sweat. Fischer-Lich­te uses this exam­ple of a the­a­t­re-pie­ce to illustra­te the natu­re of per­for­ma­ti­vi­ty, and the same goes for Tade­u­sz Kan­tor, who com­bi­ned the­a­t­re and hap­pe­nings which he called “hap­pe­ning the­a­t­re”. However he never took part in per­for­man­ce art fes­ti­vals, he refused such par­ti­ci­pati­on despi­te being a mem­ber of the same group with Zbig­niew War­pe­chowski. They were very clo­se per­so­nally but in terms of art, the defi­ni­ti­on of what is hap­pe­ning, per­for­man­ce or the­a­t­re they were poles apart.

Jana Ast­a­nov: Psy­chic Wor­kers First Quan­tum Flux Foot­ballum, Equi­nox Fest FQFFEF Lon­don 2016 (Pho­to: Karen Karnak)

Dis­tincti­ons between The­a­t­re and Per­for­man­ce Art

Orlo­vá: Resear­chers like Schech­ner come from a the­a­t­re bac­kground and, very sim­ply put, they inter­pret eve­ry kind of per­for­man­ce as the­a­t­re. For sure, there’s cer­ta­in deve­lo­p­ment within the dis­ci­pli­ne, however the refe­ren­ce fra­mework rema­ins still the same.

At this point, I’d love to sha­re with you the results of my research focusing on dis­tincti­ons between the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce art. I have read tons of dif­fe­rent stu­dies, resear­ching the­a­t­re the­o­ry a lot, and per­for­man­ce stu­dies as well. But you’ve alrea­dy men­ti­o­ned this is not really hel­p­ful. But any­way, in the Czech Repub­lic, eve­ry­thing is mixed up a lot, for exam­ple focusing on per­for­man­ce stu­dies when try­ing to under­stand per­for­man­ce art.

So in conclusi­on I’ve got, I hope, a pret­ty sim­ple the­o­ry based on con­cept of illusi­ve­ness. The­re are dif­fe­rent levels of illusi­on, for exam­ple an illusi­on of iden­ti­ty (in case you’re pre­ten­ding you’re some­o­ne else) or an illusi­on of expe­ri­en­ce, envi­ron­ment or things that you use. We can pre­tend we’re on the beach right now and having a drink, etc. This who­le con­cept is con­nec­ted with pre­pa­rati­on, rehear­sals, and repe­a­ting. So from my point of view, the more the event is pre­pa­red in detail or as a who­le, the clo­ser it is to the the­a­t­re and vice ver­sa. It works on a scale.

Sure, the­re are a lot of details I could talk about: frag­men­ta­ry authen­ti­ci­ty, the role of docu­men­tati­on and the posi­ti­on of the obser­ver, which is dif­fe­rent in the­a­t­re and visu­al per­for­man­ce. A really obvi­ous one is dif­fe­rent edu­cati­on: actors are tra­i­ned in vocal and bodi­ly expres­si­on whi­le per­for­man­ce artists are not. Neverthe­less, the con­cept of illusi­ve­ness can be used as a very sim­ple tool to dis­tingu­ish whe­ther an art pie­ce you are current­ly obser­ving is visu­al per­for­man­ce or theatre.

It can be also said that the visu­al per­for­man­ce is a non-illusi­o­nal and non-uti­li­ta­ri­an human acti­vi­ty done in the con­text of con­cep­tu­al art. This means the art pie­ce is not illusi­ve (so I’m not pre­ten­ding any­thing), I’m not doing any­thing for a cer­ta­in practi­cal pur­po­se and it’s within the con­text of con­cep­tu­al art. The aim is not to make strict labels, this works on a sca­le: if there’s a lot of illusi­on in an art pie­ce, it’s defi­ni­te­ly clo­ser to theatre.

Guzek: I think that what Jana has said about sca­ling as a defi­ni­ti­on method is very inte­res­ting, it’s a kind of per­for­ma­ti­ve sca­le with some points clo­ser to or farther from per­for­man­ce to the­a­t­re are­as. I think we need a new metho­do­lo­gy for dea­ling with per­for­man­ce art in the face of per­for­man­ce stu­dies achie­ve­ments, we have a lot of lite­ra­tu­re for coping with this very com­plex issue. Jana, you’ve sent me a text whe­re you talk about ritu­al, which is ano­ther inte­res­ting hypo­thesis, assu­ming all per­for­man­ces are ritu­a­lis­tic by natu­re, one way or another.

Orlo­vá: Thank you for men­ti­o­ning this. I assu­me all per­for­man­ces (inclu­ding eve­ry­day life per­for­man­ces and art per­for­man­ces as well) have an inhe­rent ritu­a­lis­tic aspect. May­be this can be a the­me for ano­ther meeting.

Arlan­der: It’s very dif­ficult to take part in this dis­cus­si­on because you just brie­fly intro­du­ced it, but the ques­ti­on of illusi­on sounds as a good star­ting point. For me it seems rela­ted to the issue of repre­sen­tati­on ver­sus pre­sen­tati­on. In tra­di­ti­o­nal the­a­t­re stu­dies there’s the idea that some­thing is repre­sen­ted on stage. The thing itself isn’t the­re, only a repre­sen­tati­on of it, the illusi­on of it, if you pre­fer that term. The specta­tor expects that the mur­der depic­ted on stage only repre­sents a mur­der, and is not hap­pe­ning for real. Whe­re­as in per­for­man­ce art the specta­tor often expects what’s the­re to be real. I uplo­a­ded onto the chat the mani­fes­to by Mari­lyn Arsem, which I men­ti­o­ned befo­re. It doesn’t mean I agree with her in eve­ry­thing. I’ve spo­ken to her and she con­s­ci­ous­ly exag­ge­ra­ted her sta­te­ments sin­ce it’s writ­ten as a mani­fes­to, as a pro­vo­cati­on. But I find it very use­ful when you’ve got to under­stand con­serva­ti­ve per­for­man­ce artists, because in some sen­se the tra­di­ti­o­nal per­for­man­ce-art world is in fact very con­serva­ti­ve. I remem­ber times when peo­ple said the con­tem­po­ra­ry art world and per­for­man­ce art world are two very dif­fe­rent worlds. Nowa­da­ys, it’s per­ha­ps no lon­ger so. Mari­lyn can be a good dis­cus­si­on part­ner for you.

Bry­z­gel: It’s just inte­res­ting for me as art his­to­ri­an and some­o­ne who came up throu­gh the dis­ci­pli­ne of art his­to­ry and now works in a visu­al cul­tu­re depart­ment. It’s only recent­ly that I even lear­ned about this dis­cus­si­on because I never really even knew that per­for­man­ce art was tau­ght in the­a­t­re or per­for­man­ce stu­dies depart­ments. For me, it was alwa­ys throu­gh the con­text of art his­to­ry and I’ve never really had to even con­fron­ted that deba­te.  I know there’s this tra­di­ti­on in the Sta­tes with Richard Schech­ner et al., but it seems to from the peo­ple I know that much more in Euro­pe and the UK, you’ll have per­for­man­ce art tau­ght throu­gh the­a­t­re stu­dies and the­a­t­re depart­ments. Regar­dless, it’s not a deba­te that I’ve ever had to really engage with, because the­a­t­re is just ano­ther type of art. I was never really con­cer­ned with that definition.

Any­way, I think it’s inte­res­ting that you know that from the per­specti­ve of the­a­t­re stu­dies, there’s that con­cern. I seems to me almost pro­tecti­ve like or self-pro­tecti­ve to defi­ne these dif­fe­rent things. Per­for­man­ce art is well inte­gra­ted into art his­to­ry these days, but the spe­ci­fic deba­te about what is per­for­man­ce art ver­sus what the­a­t­re or expe­ri­men­tal the­a­t­re are, we never really tou­ched that.

Arlan­der: Well, Ame­lia Jones has com­pla­i­ned that art his­to­ry never really takes into account the real bodies, only the docu­ments of the acti­ons. But if you think of Rose­lee Gol­d­berg, she has been cri­ti­ci­sed very much because of her defi­ni­ti­on of per­for­man­ce art, which was that all a visu­al artist does is per­for­man­ce art. If a visu­al artist directs a ballet, it beco­mes per­for­man­ce art because it’s made by a visu­al artist: in some sen­se that’s a litt­le wei­rd. I think visu­al artists can make many kinds of performances.

Bry­z­gel: I agree. But she was the first per­son who really tried to defi­ne this thing from within the art-his­to­ri­cal context.

Guzek: I’d like to add that in the Polish art his­to­ry, in the seven­ties, under the influ­en­ce of con­cep­tu­al art, the dif­fe­ren­ce between per­for­man­ce art and the­a­t­re was emphasi­sed very stron­g­ly and so were the dif­fe­ren­ces between per­for­man­ce art and visu­al arts. Per­for­man­ce art was in the field of the visu­al arts as it belon­ged to con­cep­tu­al art. Con­cep­tu­al artists and per­for­man­ce artists wor­ked toge­ther. So inso­much as the con­cep­tu­al art was part of the visu­al arts, so was per­for­man­ce. Well, this is the his­to­ri­cal bac­kground. In the nine­ties, we tried to orga­ni­se fes­ti­vals with the par­ti­ci­pati­on of per­for­man­ce artists and some alter­na­ti­ve the­a­t­re groups at the same time and it was disas­ter. They didn´t have any com­mon ground. However much they loved each other, mem­bers of (not only pro­fes­si­o­nal) the­a­t­re groups thou­ght: Look at this per­for­man­ce artist, totally ama­teur, what they’re doing on the stage. And per­for­man­ce artists said: Just look at them. They are drin­king from empty glas­ses. So stupid.

Ana­ly­se the Per­for­man­ce Art

Leh­ner: I guess this would hap­pen if you mixed up dif­fe­rent kinds of per­for­man­ce art sce­nes too. Within, the­re are dif­fe­rent foun­dati­ons on how they con­cep­tu­a­li­se the­ir own appro­a­ches. And how they’d deal with it. I’m tea­ching at con­tem­po­ra­ry art at an art his­to­ry depart­ment and we are faced with the pro­blem of how to teach per­for­man­ce and how to imple­ment it within art his­to­ry cour­ses. Because the­re are so many dif­fe­rent appro­a­ches. I mean, up to now, you still have tho­se tra­di­ti­o­nal Cali­for­ni­an art sce­ne per­for­man­ce artists who have this very seri­ous appro­ach to dea­ling with objects and words, which is com­ple­te­ly in oppo­si­ti­on to tho­se very bodi­ly and phy­s­i­cal Euro­pe­an artists. Even thou­gh they know each other’s sty­le and would under­stand each other, they’d pro­ba­bly cla­sh in how they inter­pret the­ir sty­les. It might help not to even bother about defi­ning per­for­man­ce, rather to think about how to ana­ly­se and descri­be per­for­man­ces. This is also what I am dea­ling with when tea­ching at an art his­to­ry depart­ment. At the very begin­ning of the con­ver­sati­on, Annet­te referred to tem­po­ra­li­ty in per­for­man­ce, which is my par­ticu­lar inte­rest. To tra­ce the tem­po­ral structu­res within works, it is often hel­p­ful to inclu­de the­o­re­ti­cal fra­meworks from other dis­ci­pli­nes into art his­to­ri­cal research. It might be fru­it­ful in a simi­lar way, inste­ad of rema­i­ning between per­for­man­ce, per­for­man­ce art, and the­a­t­re research, to con­nect these appro­a­ches in order to be able to bet­ter grasp per­for­man­ce art.

Orlo­vá: In my expe­ri­en­ce, the inter­nati­o­nal per­for­man­ce art sce­ne is very uni­fied. Even in Euro­pe, the­re is still that seri­ous appro­ach and the­re are also artists who mix both appro­a­ches… and the­re is no pro­blem with that. Aga­in, the issue is what we mean by per­for­man­ce — that’s the point whe­re I sup­po­se misun­der­stan­dings and misin­ter­pre­tati­ons ari­se. As our deba­te has shown, if we want to talk about per­for­man­ce, we have to be able to descri­be it. And how do you want to descri­be and ana­ly­ze per­for­man­ce (or any­thing else) without knowing what we are descri­bing and ana­ly­zing? When we work as cri­tics or cura­tors, we need to be well aware of what is typi­cal or unique to a given genre. For exam­ple, if we try to wri­te about visu­al per­for­man­ce as we do with a poem or a pie­ce of the­a­ter, it is possi­ble, but eva­lua­ting per­for­man­ce, for exam­ple, in terms of ver­se arran­ge­ment or dra­ma­tur­gy is not a functi­o­nal appro­ach, because per­for­man­ce does not work that way. However possi­ble it is to draw some inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry metho­do­lo­gi­cal inspiration…

Leh­ner: I use methods from film stu­dies to ana­ly­se video art. This idea intro­du­ced by some art his­to­ri­ans seems qui­te obvi­ous, but wasn’t really com­mon in art his­to­ry. If you com­bi­ne dif­fe­rent appro­a­ches, you sud­den­ly under­stand deci­si­ons within a video work which come from other sour­ces, from cine­ma­tic cul­tu­re, TV, or You­Tu­be, that were appro­pri­a­ted and might imme­di­a­te­ly be grasped by the audi­en­ce iden­ti­fy­ing these refe­ren­ces, at least in part. Imple­men­ting dif­fe­rent the­o­re­ti­cal fra­meworks hel­ps us to put these sour­ces as well as cer­ta­in deci­si­ons on per­specti­ves, edi­ting, or sound in relati­on to each other and within a broa­der mea­ning of the work.

Arlan­der: That’s a good ana­lo­gy between the­a­t­re and per­for­man­ce, which are some­how simi­lar, super­fi­ci­ally, but not the same. You can grab some things from ano­ther field and use it in your own way. But you can grab things from film as an artist who works with moving images, as you would say today, without making films (althou­gh some artists do that, too). For instan­ce I’m mixing ele­ments from per­for­man­ce art, envi­ron­men­tal art and media art in my video works. In the same way some per­for­man­ce artists have used tools from the the­a­t­re or dan­ce. And visu­al artists have used cho­re­o­gra­phic tools when they direct per­for­man­ces with pro­fes­si­o­nal per­for­mers or lay­men in art galle­ries. Such per­for­man­ces cre­a­ted by artists in muse­u­ms and the per­for­man­ce art that takes pla­ce within the per­for­man­ce art sub­cul­tu­res can be worlds apart.
Orlo­vá: Thank you all very much! We have bro­a­ched many inte­res­ting topics here; inspi­ring ide­as have been expres­sed. It would be gre­at if we could stay in touch and con­ti­nue our dis­cus­si­on… Throu­gh the revue Dan­ce Zone or somewhe­re else.

Ground table Eve­ry­thing per­forms (Pho­to: Jana Orlova)
© Marek Malůšek

Jana Orlo­vá — a the­o­rist, per­for­mer and poet. Her simul­ta­ne­ous the­o­re­ti­cal and artis­tic bac­kground allows her to work as a cura­tor and cri­tic. At the end of 2021 she rece­i­ved her Ph.D. from the Aca­de­my of Fine Arts in Pra­gue (Depart­ment of The­o­ry). Her poet­ry has been transla­ted into many lan­gu­ages, inclu­ding Hin­di and Chi­ne­se, and she has par­ti­ci­pa­ted in nume­rous art events across Euro­pe. Her research focuses on per­for­man­ce art and bor­der­li­ne art forms.

Annet­te Arlan­der (1956)- an artist, resear­cher and a peda­go­gue, one of the pio­neers of Fin­nish per­for­man­ce art and a trail­bla­zer of artis­tic research. In 2018 – 2019 she was pro­fes­sor of per­for­man­ce, art and the­o­ry at Stoc­kholm Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts with the Per­for­ming with Plants artis­tic research pro­ject. She was also the prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor of the Aca­de­my of Fin­land fun­ded research pro­ject tit­led, How to Do Things with Per­for­man­ce (2016 – 2020). At pre­sent she is visi­ting resear­cher at Aca­de­my of Fine Arts, Uni­ver­si­ty of the Arts Hel­sin­ki with the pro­ject, Mee­tings with Remar­kable and Unre­mar­kable Tre­es. Her research inte­rests inclu­de artis­tic research, per­for­man­ce-as-research and the envi­ron­ment. Her artwork moves between the tra­di­ti­ons of per­for­man­ce art, video art and envi­ron­men­tal art.

Amy Bry­z­gel — Chair in Film and Visu­al Cul­tu­re at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Aber­de­en, whe­re she has wor­ked sin­ce 2009. She is the author of three books: Per­for­ming the East: Per­for­man­ce Art in Rus­sia, Lat­via and Poland (IB Tau­ris, 2012); Mier­val­dis Polis (Riga, Lat­via: Neputns, 2015) and Per­for­man­ce Art in Eas­tern Euro­pe sin­ce 1960 (Man­ches­ter Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2017). She has rece­i­ved nume­rous grants for her research, inclu­ding a Lever­hul­me Fellowship and an Arts and Huma­ni­ties Research Coun­cil Ear­ly Career Fellowship.

Łukasz Guzek (1962) — pro­fes­sor of the Aca­de­my of Fine Arts in Gdansk.In his work he com­bi­nes scien­ti­fic research in art his­to­ry with art cri­ti­cism and cura­to­rial practice.His research inte­rests inclu­de the art of the twen­ti­e­th cen­tu­ry, par­ticu­lar­ly the art of the seven­ties, inclu­ding con­cep­tu­al art, per­for­man­ce art, installati­on art, bre­ak­throu­gh moder­nism / post­mo­der­nism in the visu­al arts, as well as docu­men­tati­on of art, under­s­to­od both as a pro­blem of the the­o­ry of art and as the practi­ce of archi­ving, reten­ti­on, main­te­nan­ce and care of works of con­tem­po­ra­ry ephe­me­ral art forms. Research con­duc­ted recent­ly is lin­ked with the area of per­for­man­ce stu­dies. The current­ly imple­men­ted research pro­ject con­cerns the stu­dy of con­tem­po­ra­ry art in Mid­dle Euro­pe. Sin­ce 2009 he has been an edi­tor-in-chief of scho­lar­ly jour­nal Art and Docu­men­tati­on (www.journal.doc.art.pl). He pub­lished three books in Polish: Installati­on Art. The Ques­ti­on of Relati­on­ship Between Spa­ce and Pre­sent­ness in Con­tem­po­ra­ry Art (2007), Per­for­ma­ti­zati­on of Art. Per­for­man­ce Art and Acti­on Fac­tor in Polish Art Cri­ti­cism (2013) and Recon­structi­on of Acti­on Art in Poland (2017),

© Kimi Pal­me Seitlich

Nora Haakh (1985) — cul­tu­ral scien­tist and per­for­ming artist between the­a­t­re and the visu­al arts. She ear­ned her PhD in 2020 at the Fre­ie Uni­ver­si­tät Ber­lin with her dis­ser­tati­on entit­led “Lay­la und Maj­nun in the Con­tact Zone” on the ques­ti­ons of transfer and translati­on from Ara­bic to Ger­man in con­tem­po­ra­ry the­a­t­re, which was awar­ded a spe­cial pri­ce in the fra­me of the “Augsburg Award for Inter­cul­tu­ral Stu­dies”. She has been wor­king as a dra­ma­tur­ge with many translo­cal artists and direc­ted con­tem­po­ra­ry Ara­bic Dra­ma. Current­ly, she tea­ches at the HAW Ham­burg and Cours Flo­rent Ber­lin and works as a Gra­phic Recor­der, expe­ri­men­ting with the possi­bi­li­ties of Live Dra­wing and Gene­ra­ti­ve Scri­bing such as per­for­ma­ti­ve sto­ry­tel­ling tools, wor­king with artist collecti­ves like the Social/Artistic Labo­ra­to­ry AUCH, Ber­lin, or “Frau­en am Fluss”, Munich. Her current artis­tic research focuses on inter­spe­cies relati­ons and is called “Tree Transla­tor”. www.nora-haakh.de 

© Enzio von Salis

Maxi­mi­li­an Leh­ner – tea­cher, co-foun­der of The Real Offi­ce in Stutt­gart. He stu­died art the­o­ry and phi­lo­so­phy in Paris, Stutt­gart, and Linz and has par­ti­ci­pa­ted in cura­to­rial cour­ses at Salzburg Sum­mer Aca­de­my and ECCA Cluj/Timisoara Art Encoun­ters. He has cura­ted exhi­bi­ti­ons for Electro­Pu­te­re (RO), Škuc Galle­ry (SI), or Fün­f­zi­g­zwan­zig (AT), and writ­ten texts for BLOK, Kajet, Revis­ta Arta, and nume­rous aca­de­mic pub­li­cati­ons. In recent time he pur­su­es PhD stu­dies at the Insti­tu­te of Con­tem­po­ra­ry Arts and Media at KU Linz.