I found this week’s topic very interesting and I really enjoyed the readings and the videos a lot. I grew up in a household where technology wasn’t really used and now as an adult who grew up in the digital age, I continuously find myself underestimating and misunderstanding the digital world and its capabilities. The British Council video on what is digital art was really eye opening to me, especially hearing the artists talk about how data is just their material. It was a perspective I hadn’t heard before and found just really fascinating. I also didn’t fully realize the scope of cataloging because I’d only come across condition reporting before, and seeing how it could be used to preserve culture and projects just really opened my eyes to the importance of this topic.

Having absorbed all this over the week, when I got to the discussion question the thing that immediately popped into my head was etherial or performance art and artist and how, for instance, did the feminist performance artist of the 1970 preserve their pieces that were temporary and in person viewership was required? One of my favorite artists working in this niche is a Serbian Artist named Maria Abramovic. Her work was very physical and was often only performed once. The biggest collection I could find of hers was at the Lisson Gallery in London. The collection is mostly photographic stills of her performance work, which made me really think about how effective those stills were at conveying the work. When Abramovic preformed The Artist Is Present in 2010, it was a  three month long performance about the importance on existing in the moment, yet there were only 3 photographs of the piece. It can be hard to capture the spirit of the work even if it was filmed the entire time simply because the work relies on a active participant who looks in the eyes of the artist. I did some digging and found an interview with Maria where she talks about her struggle with digitizing her performances. She specifically talked about here early work in the 70’s that are now stored on slide projection slides and are beginning to show sings of wear. Her piece Rhythm 0 was a work about personal responsibility  where she stood in a space for 6 hours behind a table of 72 objects ranging from food to weapons. She acted as a puppet essentially, and the audience could do whatever they wanted with her. It was an extremely powerful performance about how people behave towards powerless people. During the performance a number of photos were taken and formatted into slide projections which is shown displayed on the wall with the table of objects in current showings. Abramovic talked in the interview about how frustrating it was for her trying to update that media into current formats to keep her work alive. Her struggles lead her to open the Maria Abramovic Institute, an Interdisciplinary performance and education center that focuses on long durational work like hers, as well as cataloging and archiving performance art for the future so current work doesn’t lose parts of itself the way hers has.


Rhythm 0 | Lisson Gallery

4 Thoughts to “Week Ten: Media”

  1. Erin Gingrich

    Thank you for sharing, I believe that I learned about some of this work (of type of work) in some of my art history classes. I struggle with the intent of performance based art and whether or not the exclusivity and etherealness of the work is part of the intention for some artists but as you mention in the post, documenting this work is very important to this artist (and as I understand it needed to be funded for future projects.) As an artist, I feel that documentation is something that needs to be imbedded in the arts practice if it is part of the intent. Though hindsight is 20/20 and learning to be an archivist for your own work is a struggle and just another layer of work that often falls on to the artist themselves. Quyana!

  2. Angela Linn

    Xochi this is a really unique way to think about media and the connection to the inherently ephemeral nature of performance art. I think Erin’s point about artist intent is a good one also. Performances are considered to be “intangible cultural heritage” and so what happens to that heritage when we capture it in a particular space and time? Now it can be shared and saved, but what happens to the uniqueness of that original performance when compared to subsequent performances? Is the recorded one now seen as being the “true” expression of those sentiments?
    I’m glad these units are helping the artists in our class think more about how they use media and how they can better document & preserve their own work – and what the implications are for the future understanding of their works!

  3. Tony Thompson

    Hi Xochi! That is an excellent point about the digitization and preservation of performance art. And one that I hadn’t considered until you mentioned it. Like you said, a lot of performance art is based on active audience participation so how does one preserve that? I’m looking forward to looking into the works of Maria Abramovic and other feminist performance artists of the 1970s! I love performance art and the ability it has to make a statement more boldly than a painting, statue, or photo. Thanks for your post this week!

  4. Barbara Long

    Good Evening,

    Great post! I agree with all the comments. Physical performance art requires innovative preservation techniques and maybe consensus from their community.This reminds me of several conversations, where Elders did not want digital documentaries of their dances for public viewing. However, some are rethinking their stance on digital preservation. I think that museums and individuals will produce creative ways to present and preserve their performances for generations to come. The question: What does the future hold for digital preservation as a whole? Museums and others will need to insure/consider that any type of technologies are transferable to the most current digital format. Thanks or sharing,

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.