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£406,000 for research on performance archives

Manuel Vason and Anne Seagrave 'Collaboration' #2 London 2005

Manuel Vason and Anne Seagrave 'Collaboration' #2 London 2005 Manuel Vason and Anne Seagrave

23 February 2011

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

The three-year project will be undertaken by Professor Simon Jones and Dr Paul Clarke of Bristol’s Department of Drama and Exeter’s Professor Nick Kaye.  It aims to create collaborations between research academics, creative artists and curators in developing models for the re-use of performance archive.

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, for example, Bristol 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).

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

Professor Jones said: “Where traditional scholarship has tended to appraise archives in relation to art-historical narratives and read documents as the textual remains of past events, 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.

It 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.

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