Activism – performance

16th of December 2020
Chair Dr. Tom Slevin with Maja Hill and Denise Clarke


11:20 – 11:35 and 5min Q and A

History, translation and critical dissensus: Exploring the political potential of artist residencies in museums
Alex Reynolds

This paper explores the political potential of artist residencies in museums through three distinct case studies, each of which operates to translate archival collections into new expanded forms of critical creative practice and display. Following the Rancièrian definition of the political as ‘innovation which tears bodies from their assigned spaces and… works to introduce new subjects and heterogenous objects into the field of perception’ (2010, p.35), the paper traces the particular potency of aesthetic translation of the archive to re-write, re-shape and re-perform cultural and historic narratives.

Case studies include the 2012 ‘Weltkulturen Labour’ residencies at Frankfurt’s Weltkulturen Museum, where young international artists and designers responded to the museum’s ethnographic collection; re-appropriating colonial archival artefacts by translating textures, fabrics and designs into new collections and displays. Also represented is ‘Sea People’, a 2019 residency at the National Maritime Museum where artist Eve Shepherd worked with local transgender, refugee and girls’ groups to respond to white, heteronormative busts and figures in the museum collection. Figures more representative of diverse histories were created through the residency and displayed alongside historic busts in the museum’s permanent galleries.

Finally, the paper discusses artist residencies associated with the current Heritage Funded Our Museum project at Poole Museum. Residencies include a developing ceramics project exploring climate change and sustainability through local clays and natural glazes while responding to pottery in the museum collection.

 The paper finds that artistic translation of archival collections has a particular potency as a result not only as a result of its qualitative affect, but because of its ability to actively intervene into cultural and historic narratives, and to perform new truths in tangible manifestation. Particularly given the contemporary imperative for museums to represent history critically and act as a forum for future action (Sandell 2016, Message 2018, Marstine 2017), the paper ultimately makes a case for museums to incorporate creative practice more readily into curatorial programming.

This paper specifically relates to ‘philosophical and theoretical approaches to ‘poetic translations’ across arts disciplines, and their potentials and limitations in addressing contemporary debates and concerns’ as outlined in the Poetic Translations Call. It might also be argued that it is precisely Benjamin’s moment of ‘poetic innovation’ through the creative act which underlies the unique relationship of artistic transformation to political potency as described in this paper.

Dr Alexandra Reynolds (FRSA) is currently Collections and Engagement Officer for Our Museum, a National Lottery Heritage Funded project operating to co-create a new maritime gallery at Poole Museum in Dorset. With an AHRC funded PhD in Museum Crowdsourcing and Co-Creation, Alexandra has over 10 years’ experience of working in curatorial and academic research roles. During this time, Alexandra has led and co-developed a range of HLF, AHRC and ACE funded museum partnership projects and has published variously around critical collaborative museums practice, museum activism within Post-Fordism and effective digital co-creation in museums and galleries, as well as producing policy reports for national funding bodies surrounding digital museum networks.

11:40 – 11:55 and 5min Q and A

One000plateaus: cross-disciplinary happenings and the radical ontology of utopian poetics
Roy Hanney

Between 2009-16 artists collective 1000 Plateaus staged three artists potlatches in the city of Portsmouth. Intended as collaborative experimental space within which artists from across a range of disciplinary practices could come together as an experience as opposed to an exhibition. Offering a possibility for translating unitary disciplinary practices and reimagining them as an assemblage of connected practices in which fluidity, exchangeability and multiplicity are emphasised. Artists responded to an open call and a given trigger. The concept of an artist’s potlatch is in part inspired by the inter-disciplinary happenings of the Dadaist’s and later by Fluxus, but also appropriates the gift giving customs of the native American Indian Potlatch, a ritual practice through which relations of reciprocity are established. It aims to subvert the relationship between audience/performer/performance, blurring the distinction between them, by removing the need for a stage or by staging performances in unusual or challenging locations. The adoption of the ten principles of Burning Man arts festival, which include ‘radical participation and radical inclusivity’ further embeds the principle there are ‘no spectators and no outsiders’ everybody is part of the experience. Seeking to generate a ‘temporary autonomous zone’ (TAZ), a liquid space of celebration and risk that deployed a ‘utopian poetics’ or ‘dada epistemology’ in order to de-hierarchise the formation of the events. Gratuitous play and gift giving as a form of ritual practice melts away the audience’s separation from the contributing artists by embracing the chaotic, evasive nature and ambiguity of the moment. Thereby reimagining the possibilities for collaborative arts, envisaging a pirate utopia if you will, in which the experience of the audience is decentred, de-commodified and decolonised. Through a case study approach this presentation aims to explore the evolving methodology employed by the provocateurs behind these three artists potlatches and to evaluate the results.

Roy is a media maker, educator, arts activist and creative producer working in and around Portsmouth on the south coast of the UK. Having spent over 15 years working in film and television from the mid 80’s to mid 90’s he has now been teaching in higher education for close to 20 years. His areas of specialisation include documentary & drama production, ideation & project development, transmedia and live projects. As an creative producer he
has been running the DVMISSION 48 Hour Film Challenge for over 15 years, is currently Director of Making Waves Film festival and is involved with other creative industries talent development projects around the Solent region. As a video artist and VJ he has promoted a number of immersive AV events in Portsmouth and has collaborated with other local arts promoters such as The Front Room and Darkfest to deliver a series of immersive audio-visual experiences including; Cure or be Cured at Southsea Castle, Delirium Dreams &
Nightmares, Brave New World and Waving Not Drowning. Events that combine film, spoken word and performance in an innovative combination. Most recently he secured Arts Council England funding to deliver the transmedia experience Cursed City Dark Tide. Inspired by the Snow Witch, a novel by local author Matt Wingett. The story led the audience on an adventure to save the city from an angry spirit. Further funding was provided by the Arts Council for a pop-up exhibition of local artists work, also inspired by the same novel, in
Cascades shopping centre in the city’s high street. Under the banner of 1000 Plateaus he continues to promote arts events that challenge the boundaries between audience and performer blurring the boundaries between the possible and the probable.

12:00-12:15 and 5min Q and A

The activation of performance art works as a translation process
Daniela Felix, Martins Bianca Tinoco

Based on the experience of museums and collections that have acquired performances, we propose a reflection on the possibilities and adaptation requirements involved in the presentation of these works/acts in contexts other than those for which they were initially conceived. In this sense, we rely on translation strategies in order to understand how they collaborate for the activation of these work, considering the decisions needed for a coherent transposition of artistic poetics from one historical moment to another. We embrace some of the assumptions formulated by Translation Studies, which view the translation project not as a model, but as an activity to make explicit the different transformations and actions that participate in the process of permanence of a work through its translation. We are interested in exploring how such a conception, by assuming translation as a spatiotemporal and heterogeneous creation, allows us to identify the transformations in a performance during its activation. It is worth mentioning that, although a performance activation may not require the presence of the author when delegated to other activators, paradoxically, the activation process demands a continuous relationship between the artists and their works, much more than conventional works would allow. Furthermore, the very notion of “conservation” of a work acquires a performative dimension, as there is an inseparability between preservation and exposure in performance art, thus invoking an active dimension for art institutions and other mediators. Therefore, by adopting some of the theoretical-methodological premises of Translation Studies to understand the acquisition and musealization of performances, we hope to explore questions that constantly arise during these processes, such as: which activities are necessary to carry out a performance? Who are the new actors invited to participate in the activation of a performance? What is the relationship established between the performance instantiations, that is, between their initial coordinates and those that are invited to participate in subsequent activations?

Daniela Felix Martins is a senior lecturer in the Sociology department at the University of Brasília (UnB). She has a PhD in Social Sciences at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), and conducted postdoctoral studies at the Postgraduate Program in Translation Studies at the University of Brasilia. In 2016, she completed a split PhD at the University of Roehampton with a scholarship from the Brazilian Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). She has dedicated herself to the study of issues related to the arts, culture and politics, developing research on the relations between contemporary art, cultural markets and governmental policy. She has a special interest in the development of interactionist approaches in the field of social sciences, particularly in contemporary discussions about the actor-network-theory and cosmopolitics. As a member of the OSSO Performance Collective, she has carried out curatorial and cultural production activities.

Bianca Andrade Tinoco is a doctoral student in Theory and History of Art at the Postgraduate Program in Visual Arts at the University of Brasília (UnB). She holds a master’s degree in Contemporary Poetics also at the University of Brasília (2008-2009). In 2020, she completed a split PhD at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid’s Art History Program, with a scholarship from the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). She holds a BA in Social Communication / Journalism at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2001) and a specialization in History of Art and Architecture in Brazil at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (2005-2006). She is a member of the research group Musealization of Art: Poetics in Narratives. Her main research themes are the institutionalization of performance art and non-object art, through their acquisition and collecting, and the artistic production of cis and trans women in the 21st century.

12:20 to 12:40
This section will conclude with a discussion on the topic

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