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Collecting Performance Art

16 April 2012

Ever considered the issues surrounding the collection of performance art? A recent seminar at Cornerhouse, Manchester, organised by The International 3 and Contemporary Art Society North West, did just that.

It was in the context of 'Between' (curated by Louise Adkins and The International 3) - a series of newly commissioned performances being presented at Cornerhouse, Manchester and devised to take place in the space and time of exhibition changeover, that the seminar, 'Collecting Performance Art' took place.

'Collecting Performance Art' brought together four speakers each representing a different position within the process of producing and purchasing live work.

Artist Louise Adkins highlighted the varied approaches to performance making being used by the 'Between' commissioned artists and provided an overview of the project's curatorial premise with its origins in a programme of activity also called 'Between', that took place at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf from 1969-1973.

Artist Hayley Newman provided examples from two previous performance related projects, Connotations Performance Images 1994-1998 (1998) and Connotations (2002) both of which resulted in sales to Arts Council England's collection in the form of video and photographs.

Citing the nails from Chris Burden's performance 'Transfixed' now belonging to a collection and the bloodied canvases produced during Franko B's live works, art historian Teresa Calonje illustrated ways in which artists extend their live work, whilst collector Robert Lee from The Collective gave an insight into his experience of commissioning Homesuite by Catharine Fry, a live work performed in his home that resulted in no collectable residue.

In summary the day's presentations focused around three key points:

  • Do the objects and remnants of the live act make manifest the artwork or are they decontextualized ciphers?
  • Is the purchasing of re-enactment rights allowing live works to be re-performed the mechanism through which performance art can be best collected?  
  • Or, in experiencing the work first hand are we not all collectors in / of the moment?

Tell us what your thoughts are by emailing ownart@artscouncil.org.uk or on facebook or twitter @ownartscheme

W: Between

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