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MOMENTS/ A History of Performance in 10 Acts

ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art

Anna Halprin "City Dance", 1976–1979, b/w-photography, photo : Buck O'Kelly, © Anna Halprin

"Moments. A History of Performance in 10 Acts" is an international live exhibition on the history of art performance in dance and fine art. As an exhibition ’in progress’, the project shows and develops new formats of museal presentation of live acts. The exhibition begins and ends in an empty space. During the eight week duration of the exhibition project a scenic act of around ten central stages of dance and performance history unfolded – as witnessed by a group of experts and laymen invited to accompany and observe for the entire period – before a public. One of the key focal points is the performances and works by women who have consciously been thematizing, transgressing and critiquing the genre boundaries between dance, performance, and visual media since the 1960s. Here, they likewise reflect on the implicit male constructions of the gaze and the gestural logic of their colleagues.

Among others, the artists represented in the exhibition will be Marina Abramović, Graciela Carnevale, Simone Forti, Anna Halprin, Reinhild Hoffmann, Channa Horwitz, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Sanja Iveković, Adrian Piper and Yvonne Rainer. The artists themselves document their historical performances in exhibition spaces. Boris Charmatz, in collaboration with colleagues from art and theory, approaches the documented works scenically and develops on-site a live act in a laboratory situation around this central moment of performance history. The two artists, Ruti Sela and Neil Beloufa will be documenting this artistic approach to the work of their predecessors by way of film documentaries and will produce a film in the actual exhibition context itself. Furthermore new performative methods and actions of art education regarding historical performances will be developed.

The starting point is the interest in the processes of coming to terms with history in so-called enactments of historic performances, but which also comes to expression in the recently erupted controversy surrounding the museal presentability of performances by Joseph Beuys in photographic documentation. This is also reflected in the practice of a younger generation of performers and choreographs, such as in numerous historical appropriations and re-enactments. At the center of this is the "heroic" period of the 1960s to the 1980s in which a radical (new) definition of the genres took place in the more intimate dialog between performance movements of fine art and dance.

"Moments. A History of Performance in 10 Acts" breaks with the routines of museum institutions and is divided into four phases :

- 1 : Act − Stage and Display (March 8−March 17, 2012) The exhibition begins with an empty display of ten artistic approaches. The artists of the "heroic" performance generation of the 1960s and 1970s will themselves be installing the exhibition before the public. Public discussions, panel discussions and artist presentations will be held alongside the installation. The first phase closes with the actual opening of the exhibition on March 17. The performance "Practice Makes a Master2 by Sanja Iveković is performed by Sonja Pregrad as part of the opening events.

- 2 : Re-Act − Interpretative Acquisition in the Art Laboratory (March 18−March 30, 2012) French choreograph, Boris Charmatz, and a selected group of colleagues from art and science will meet together for the preview. In a two-week art laboratory, set up within the exhibition space participants will discuss and develop the strategies and methods of acquisition, and re-interpret the historical performances documented in the exhibition. An Open Lab will be held for public reflection on the results, on March 30. A performance will be given in the theater’s studio as part of the cooperation with the Baden Staatstheater on March 31.

- 3 : Post-Production − Film Editing (March 31−April 14, 2012) The artist Ruti Sela will produce a documentary on the Art Laboratory. During the third phase of the exhibition, the display will become the production studio of a performance art film. The film venue is the exhibition itself ; its theme is the multiple interaction of the performance history within it. The visitors can follow the film production within the exhibition as it develops. The end of this project phase marks the premiere of the film on April 14.

- 4 : Remembering the Act − Performative Mediation of the Exhibition Process by Artistic Witnesses (April 15−April 29, 2012) The so-called "witnesses" (students from various international art academies and universities) will accompany the exhibition from the beginning. They represent the active mediators of the total process, and themselves become the main actors of the exhibition during the last phase. Their presence weaves and consolidates the chain of presences in this exhibition, which follows a dramaturgy of act, trace, recollection, interpretation, re-act, trace, memory, interpretation, re-re-act. The finnisage on April 28, concludes the fourth phase and also the exhibition itself. The dismantling takes place before the public.

Curators : Boris Charmatz, Sigrid Gareis, Georg Schöllhammer

Exhibition Beginning : Thurs, March 8th, 2012

Final Presentation 1st Phase/ Opening : Sat, March 17th, 2012, 4 p.m.

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