Art is Dead Long Live Live Art: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Performance 20-21 April 2018 / London, UK

In 2012 Tate Modern opened The Tanks, the first museum space to be devoted to live art and performance. In 2017, at the latest edition of the Venice Biennale entitled Vive Le Art (Long Live Art), the German Pavilion that was dedicated to performance art, received the Golden Lion for the Best Pavilion Award.

The acknowledgment of performance art by the most prestigious art institutions around the world, is no doubt, a testament to its growing place among contemporary art practices. Nevertheless, what Dominic Johnson claims, in his 2014 book Critical Live Art, is still apt: “there is a relative absence of scholarly work on Live Art as a historically and culturally specific mode of artistic production”.

“Art is Dead, Long Live, Live Art”, is an international and interdisciplinary conference that will try to remedy this relative absence.

Taking the following definition by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) as its starting point, the conference will be open to papers that deal with any aspect of performance art:

To talk about Live Art is to talk about art that invests in ideas of process, presence and experience as much as the production of objects or things; art that wants to test the limits of the possible and the permissible; and art that seeks to be alert and responsive to its contexts, sites and audiences.

We invite papers that engage with (but are not limited to) the following questions, which could be addressed from a theoretical perspective or through specific case studies:

  • What is the relation, if any, between different genres of live art? Is there a relation between, for example, an experimental staging of Shakespeare and a durational performance in a public space? Is there any affinity between, say, an immersive theatre and a participatory body art performance? What is the difference between a drag show and a performance art where the artist is in drag?
  • How does gender politics work in live art? Does concepts like drag, nudity, endurance, body modification change meaning when applied to the gendered body of the performer? Is drag supposed to be considered burlesque when the performer is a cis woman? Is the cyborg body of post- humanist performances gendered? If gender is performative, then how is gender fluidity performed in live art?
  • Is the documentation of performance art, an art onto itself? Who is the artist in a photograph or video of a performance, the performer or the documenter? Why is someone like Spencer Tunik considered a photographer and not a performance artist? Does documenting “live art” kill it?
  • What is the place of reenactment in performance art? Is the reenactment of performance scores akin to “covers” in music or are they like the “play” in theatre and the “script” in cinema or should each reenactment be considered an adaptation?
  • How does the high/low art divide bear upon live art? How does one separate circus and street arts from endurance performances; what is the difference between nudity in a gallery setting and in burlesque shows; what is the difference between stand-up comedy and spoken word performance?
  • What is the methodology of an in-depth analysis of a single performance? How should a performance artist’s oeuvre be evaluated? Does the concept of an auteur have any meaning in the realm of live art? What is the difference between a performance artist that is her own performer and one that “employs” performers?
  • When activities that are already regarded as “performative” or “theatrical”, like BDSM sexuality, occult practices, traditional rituals become a part of live art, how does this double performativity work?
  • How is the reception of live art to be conceptualized? Does performance art provocatively attack the safety of the spectatorial position? Does participation really put an end to the myth of the passive spectator or does it turn the spectator into an unwilling, thus passive, participant?
  • How is performance art represented in non-live arts like cinema and literature? How is live art represented in popular media? Why does performance art become a subject of ridicule, even hate, in social media?
  • What is the relationship between activism and performance? Can performance art be considered a form of activism? How should we conceptualize the fact that many political demonstrations contain what in other contexts would have been considered live art?
  • What is the relationship between technology and performance art? Is multimedia performance, a separate genre of live art? How does the concept of live audience and interactivity change when the performance is live on the web rather than sharing the same space with the audience?

For further questions please contact Dr. Tuna Erdem: tuna@queerartprojects.co.uk

  • Conference Fee: 150 GBP, including lunch and coffee breaks.
  • Conference Dates: 20-21 April 2018
  • Announcement of selected papers: 9 February 2018
  • Registration deadline: 19 March 2018

Abstract submissions are closed. Selected papers will be announced on the 9th of February via e-mail.

Register for the Conference