Re-enactment, czyli niekonserwatywna konserwacja sztuki performance
Re-Enactment, Or A Non-Conservative Conservation Of Performance Art
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The conservation of performance art sounds like an oxymoron. How can we conserve works whose base of existence is being ephemeral, unique and an unrepeatable dialogue with the spectator? The generally accepted method of preservation is obviously documentation which witnesses the occurrence of the act of art. However, what is to be done if the documentation seems insufficient or inadequate in the process of passing on the piece of work to next generations? One of the ways to revive an ephemeral act of art is the re-enactment. Re-enactment as a method of conservation of performance art is part of a broader strategy for the preservation of ephemeral art and other genres generally referred to as 'time-based art'. Many examples of contemporary art employ performative elements and are often based on interaction. Before, (apart from 'live art') they used to be referred to as kinetic art, installation, and more recently computer and video installations or net art. None of them is conservable in the traditional meaning of the word, which pushes the conservators to look for new ways : a re-interpretation, re-creation, migration or emulation. This article is an attempt to outline and evaluate the effectiveness of such activities based on a case of re-enactment of the performance 'Change. My problem is the Problem of a Woman' by Ewa Partum from 1974. Thirty-six years after the performance took place, a conservator repeated this performance with the help of new make-up artists, as a conservator's experiment. The re-enactment strategy used in this piece was meant to enable the experiencing of it anew. A conservator's workshop has always had the task to preserve and maintain a piece of art but in the context of a piece of a performative artwork the task seems to be unusual. Here the conservation strategy becomes a reconstruction, taking on a new, extreme form acting out the artist's role in order to reproduce the work. The conservator of performance art here uses the tools that come from the performance artist's toolkit and moves around within a framework, of not so much in the matter of the piece, but rather in the sphere of ideas, its verbalized and hidden meanings.
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