Forced Entertainment, "Speak Bitterness" (1994). Photo: Hugo Glendinning

£406,828 for research on performance archives

Researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter have been awarded a £406,828 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for research into live art and performance archives.

The three-year project aims to create collaborations between research academics, creative artists and curators in developing models for the re-use of performance archive. It will be led by Professor Simon Jones and Dr Paul Clarke from the Drama department in Bristol and Professor Nick Kaye, co-director of the Research Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter.

Many archives of live art and performance have been or are being produced and the need to conserve, catalogue and make them more accessible is increasingly recognized.  A recently completed the digitization of the National Review of Live Art Video Archive, a collection of videos documenting thirty years of performance art from one of the world’s leading performance festivals (1980-2010).

Professor Nick Kaye said, “The research project is an important collaboration involving work with internationally-known performance artists and theatre companies who will create new works using archival material held in Exeter and at Bristol.”

He added, “The project will build on the Centre for Intermedia’s existing collaborations with artists and galleries regionally and internationally. We expect, in this extended work with our colleagues at Bristol, that the project will also link with the University’s new Arts and Culture Strategy to enrich arts research and practice in the South West and beyond.”

This new AHRC project, entitled ‘Performing Documents: modelling creative and curatorial engagements with live art and performance archives’, will research and facilitate a significant advance in the understanding and use of these archival materials’

Professor Jones said “This project will produce models for the investigation of this archival material through practice-as-research. Thus, it will advance an understanding of existing archival holdings through their relationship to current and future creative practice in ways that will deepen academic, professional and public engagement with what remains of this ephemeral work.”

Through industry partners, Arnolfini and Inbetween Time Productions, the project will focus on the Live Art and Arnolfini Archives, developing practical models for the future use of this material by a wide range of professional users, including scholars, practitioners and curators.
The project will also develop strategies for the exhibition of these materials and ephemera so that event-based art can be understood and communicated across generations of artists and scholars, as well as to a broader public.

A series of three workshops will focus on different approaches to artists’ re-use of archival materials including artists’ use of their own documents, artists' use of other artists' documents, and the exhibition of documents and performance ephemera.  These workshops and a two-day conference will result in a book and DVD of documentation and reflection on the practical inquiries, essays from the investigators and conference papers.

Date: 18 February 2011

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