Forthcoming‘We Are Gathering Experience’Book Section
Abstract: In recent years, critics and art historians have pointed to an ‘educational turn’, a rise in participatory pedagogical art projects and artist-led experimental schools. This essay considers artist-led projects and museum programmes that restage or reenact educational experiments from the past, analysing their limits and possibilities in the study and presentation of modern art history. Much like performance art, pedagogy is ephemeral and contingent, and yet it differs in that it does not establish a fixed spectatorial role. To be understood it must be participated in, for, as Josef Albers described his teaching, ‘we are gathering experience’.
Forthcoming‘Political-Timing-Specific’ Performance Art in the Realm of the MuseumBook Section
Hélia Marçal and Daniela Salazar ‘Political-Timing-Specific’ Performance Art in the Realm of the Museum: The Potential of Reenactment as Practice of Memorialization
Can reenactments be a way to create counter-narratives in and for the museum? Through the analysis of political performance (or what the artist Tania Bruguera calls ‘political-timing-specific’ artworks), this essay discusses the potential of reenactment as both a practice of materializing memories and narratives of oppression and of rethinking museum policies in terms of preservation and display. Its main argument is that, while the archive can be regarded as a form of materializing the memory of these works, reenactment is more than a way of recovering the past; it is also a device for reconstructing memories of activism and oppression. This essay further suggests that reenactments of political-timing-specific works demand a change in accessioning, conservation, and presentation practices, which might be inclined to erase decentralized art-historical and material narratives.
Forthcoming‘Repetition: Summer Display 1983’ at Van AbbemuseumBook Section
Michela Alessandrini ‘Repetition: Summer Display 1983’ at Van Abbemuseum: Or, What Institutional Curatorial Archives Can Tell Us about the Museum
The reactivation of Rudi Fuchs’ 1983 exhibition ‘Summer Display’ took place in 2009 as part of the collection series, ‘Play van Abbe part 1: The Game and the Players’, and was entitled ‘Repetition: Summer Display 1983’. The reconstruction questioned the codes and systems used within (but also consciously and unconsciously outside) the museum and raised several questions, including: what story did the original composers want to tell, and how can this piece of history be understood today? Is the new presentation a separate exhibition entirely or a copy of the ‘original’ one? What is then the difference between the idea of copy, repetition, and reenactment? And what is the role of the museum’s archive in the process of restaging? What can curatorial institutional archives tell us about the museum itself?
ForthcomingLiving SimulacrumBook Section
Joanna Kiliszek Living Simulacrum: The Neoplastic Room in Łódź: 1948 / 1960 / 1966 / 1983 / 2006 / 2008 / 2010 / 2011 / 2013 / 2017 / ∞
The Neoplastic Room at the Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź was originally designed in 1948 by the avant-garde artist Władysław Strzemiński. Destroyed in 1950 and reconstructed in 1960, it became the focal point of the museum, with the ‘International Collection of Modern Art’ by the a.r. group being exhibited there. At the same time, it became a point of reference for contemporary artists and a strategy for building a permanent collection for the museum, as well as a reflection on how the past can give a vision of the future. This essay focuses on the gesture of ‘re-curating’ the Neoplastic Room in relation to the performative practice of the artists involved (e.g., Daniel Buren, Elżbieta Jabłońska).
ForthcomingUnfold Nan HooverBook Section
Vera Sofia Mota and Fransien van der Putt Unfold Nan Hoover: On the Importance of Actively Encouraging a Variable Understanding of Artworks for the Sake of their Preservation and Mediation
To support the practice of preservation and mediation of video works in the LIMA Collection (Amsterdam), the authors explore the possibilities of reinterpretation as a rather common practice in the performing arts. As a choreographer and a dramaturge, they establish a correlation between reinterpretation and dramaturgy — as a way to deal with non-objective or transitory aspects of the works — and describe their method in relation to the video and performance artist Nan Hoover.
Gaby Wijers UNFOLD: The Strategic Importance of Reinterpretation for Media Art Mediation and Conservation
UNFOLD: Mediation by Reinterpretation is a research project and interdisciplinary network initiated by LIMA, Platform for Media Art in Amsterdam, that examines reinterpretation as an emerging practice for artistic production, presentation, and preservation of media works. New elements stretch the boundaries of traditional preservation methods and require insights from both the artist and the curator to decide how pieces can be restaged. This essay investigates how to deal with the changes of digital/media artworks over time, and how to preserve and mediate their performative aspects.
ForthcomingReconciling Authenticity and ReenactmentBook Section
Locating authenticity in artworks that are remade (all or in part) or re-performed over time presents a unique challenge for art conservators, whose activities have traditionally been oriented toward caring for the material aspects of art objects. The paper offers a brief overview of perspectives on authenticity and discusses various theoretical models that have been developed to conceptualize how media, installation, and performance artworks are displayed and cared for over time. These include the score/performance model, the concepts of autographicity and allographicity, the concept of iteration, and authenticity as a practice. The author proposes a theoretical model based on the ritual aspects of presenting artworks, arguing that authenticity, repetition, and community participation can be reconciled within a ritual context.
ForthcomingRe-Presenting Art HistoryBook Section
Can reenactment both as reactivation of images and restaging of exhibitions be considered an alternative way of tackling the critical task to re-present art history (i.e., to present it anew) in the here and now, over and over and over again? The gesture of restoring visibility to something no longer present, reactivating or reembodying it as an object/image in and for the present, is here proposed as a (political) act of restitution and historical recontextualization. Examining the boundaries between past and present, original and copy (as well as originality and copyright), repetition and variation, authenticity and auraticity, presence and absence, canon and appropriation, durée and transience, the paper focuses on remediation, reinterpretation, and reconstruction as creative gestures and cultural promises in contemporary art practice, curatorship, and museology.
ForthcomingPerformance Art in the 1990s and the Generation GapBook Section
In the 1990s, the question of the legacy of historical performance was posed with a particular sense of urgency. In the context of most pioneers of the art form having retired from live performance, reenactments not only reproduced past works but positioned artists within the genealogy of performance. The sense of the passage of a generation and the transmission of the memory of past performances were made explicit by Marina Abramović in The Biography (1992), a theatre piece in which she stages the very process of accounting for her past, as well as by Takashi Murakami and Oleg Kulik, who emerged on the art scene in the 1990s and mimicked live works from the past.
ForthcomingIn the Beginning There Is an EndBook Section
Malin Arnell In the Beginning There Is an End: Approaching Gina Pane, Approaching Discours mou et mat
In this fifteen-minute lecture-performance, Malin Arnell presents her dialogue with the work of French-Italian artist Gina Pane (1939–1990). Oriented around textual and visual traces of Pane and Arnell’s historical intra-action, this ongoing dialogue explores performance art documentation and historical narratives. The project interrogates the operations of archives, asking: ‘How do queer feminist performance archives make you vulnerable, how do they make you feel, act, react?’ ‘Whose bodies remain present, and which bodies are lost?’ The framework of the work — its repetition with variations and its artistic and queer feminist methodologies — enables an exploration of history, documentation, and bodily epistemology as an attempt to take responsibility for what is not known by doing, through action — through performance.
ForthcomingRe-search, Re-enactment, Re-design, Re-programmed ArtBook Section
Serena Cangiano, Davide Fornari, and Azalea Seratoni Re-search, Re-enactment, Re-design, Re-programmed Art
Kinetic and programmed art has been a trend of contemporary arts that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. Kinetic artworks often incorporated technology, at that time still immature, and involved the audience in the production of visual, sound, and somatic effects. Gruppo T was the pioneering group at the forefront of this groundbreaking vision of art as reproducible, participatory, and interactive. Through an action research project and the methodological tool of reenactment, a group of researchers, designers, and artists has proposed an alternative way to conserve Gruppo T artworks. The project ‘Re-programmed Art: An Open Manifesto’ originated from the ephemeral and experimental features, as well as fragility, of the works by Gruppo T — that is, from the difficulties of practice, conservation, technology, and market that have confined them for far too long to the margins of mainstream art history. We conceive reenactment not just a mere restaging but as re-designing, re-thinking, updating, and re-programming a series of works by Gruppo T.
ForthcomingReenactment in TheatreBook Section
Theatre, because of its ability to represent through restaging, would seem to be the quintessential platform for reenactment. The Orestea (una commedia organica?) by R. Castelluci and Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, restaged at the Paris Automne Festival in 2015, twenty years after its 1995 world premiere in Prato, is the starting point for a reflection on the status of restaging in theatre. This case study is the occasion to apply Walter Benjamin’s philosophical concept of the Jetztzeit to a theatrical context, and to consider also the ‘citational’ value of theatrical reenactment. These concepts are useful to study not only the reenactment of theatrical gesture and acting but also to consider the practice of restaging related to the theatrical event conceived in its entirety.
ForthcomingSpeculative WritingBook Section
This article investigates and proposes the concept of speculative writing, which is a disruptive sort of dramaturgy mediated by artificial intelligence. What are the kinds of events created by speculative writing? What might its history and genealogy be? What might the duration of an alphanumeric reenactment be? Guided by these questions, the article details its search for speculative writing in unfilmed script history as well as in premediation events. According to these concepts, this essay concludes that speculative writing will enact potential, abstract, and premediated events, which have never become material media.
ForthcomingEveryday Aesthetics and the Practice of Historical ReenactmentBook Section
Ulrike Wagner Everyday Aesthetics and the Practice of Historical Reenactment: Revisiting Cavell’s Emerson
Throughout his career, Stanley Cavell’s subject has been the ordinary: what Ralph Waldo Emerson would call ‘the near, the low, the common’. Cavell provides compelling insights into Emerson’s efforts to locate philosophy within the flow of everyday life. He examines how Emerson renews common thinking, citations, and fragments from the works of others by means of his ‘aversive thinking’: his technique of turning writing back upon itself. While taking Cavell’s Emerson readings as its point of departure, this essay switches Cavell’s philosophical angle for a philological one. I suggest that Emerson’s engagement with contemporary debates concerning the historical reading of sacred and secular literature (the Bible, Homer, Shakespeare) formed his own practice of reworking literatures of various origins and recasting aesthetics in major ways.
ForthcomingUnintentional ReenactmentsBook Section
What is the relationship between reenactment and repetition compulsion? By shedding light upon the different levels of reenactment at stake in Yella by Christian Petzold, I analyse the ‘transitional spaces’ where the German filmmaker places his wandering characters who have ‘slipped out of history’. In Yella Petzold mixes up past, present, future, and oneiric re-elaboration to question the memory of the past of GDR, which in his view has never really been constituted as history. The characters that populate this movie move in a setting constructed at the crossroad between a protected environment where the reenacted events are sheltered by the time and the space of the plot and a place weathered by the unpredictable atmospheric agents of the present. How and to which extent can the clash between different temporalities produce a minimal variation?
ForthcomingArchival Reenactement and the Role of FictionBook Section
Roberta Agnese Archival Reenactement and the Role of Fiction: Walid Raad and the Atlas Group Archive
The Atlas Group created a digital mixed-media archive of contemporary Lebanese history, made up of produced and found documents. These archives look immediately ambiguous: they don’t collect historical documents; they actually contain visual artefacts created by the Lebanese artist Walid Raad. These digital mixed-media archives — partly accessible on the web but also physically exhibited and performed — are not intended to preserve the memory of the past, but they become indeed useful to actualize history by giving it back in the form of a historical fiction. What if archives should not deal with memory, but with amnesia? And what kind of historical temporality do they re-activate?
ForthcomingArchival DiffractionsBook Section
In the reactivation of the feminist collective of artists Le Nemesiache, this paper looks at the tension between rhetoric and translation in relation to the dislocation of archival materials from their situatedness in place (Naples) and time (1970 to the present). Translation emerges as the conveyor of the conditions from which the addresser started, as well as the ones of the addressees, as a potential that takes place in the moment of enunciation through a plurality of subjects. Considering the epistemological tension between history and fiction, as well as the mediation that happens through the body and the different subjectivities triggered by intra-action, this essay will engage with the following question: if the archive is the memory, can dramaturgy and reenactment from the archive become the message of a prophecy?
Forthcoming‘Interrupting the Present’Book Section
Katja Gentric ‘Interrupting the Present’: Political and Artistic Forms of Reenactments in South Africa
A sense of repetition pervades contemporary South African political and cultural debate. Several recent studies have drawn attention to the fact that the renewed student protests since March 2015 parallel several features of the resistance and liberation movements of the 1970s and 1980s. At a pivotal position between the two moments of political struggle stands the ‘miracle’ of the peaceful transition in 1994. Within this set of circumstances a group of curators, artists, and writers, Gabi Ngcobo and Kemang Wa Lehulere, amongst others, formed a collective under the name CHR (Center for Historical Reenactments) in Johannesburg in 2010. The CHR has pursued several questions that interrogate the complexity of a shared memory bridging segregated Apartheid legacy: how do readings of the past inform contemporary urgencies, and what are the political potentials of artistic interpretations of histories? How do they participate in the formation of new subjectivities?
ForthcomingResounding Difficult HistoriesBook Section
Prompt, Immediate, Now / Very Restrained and Cautious (2013), Defending Territory in a Networked World (2013) and Afgang 04.00 (2017) are three sound pieces that lean on events of historical proportions. They involve addressing the artistic challenge of letting difficult historical narratives resonate in the present. The artistic process for all three works involved finding fitting modes of reenactment and providing a present-day position on why and how these materials may be incorporated in artworks today, as well as contributing to historical revision and political resistance.
Forthcoming<i>The Collection of Jane Ryan & William Saunders</i>Book Section
This paper focuses on an ongoing project that began in 2012, entitled The Collection of Jane Ryan & William Saunders. This project is an attempt to reconstitute the Marcos Collection. Sourced from auction catalogues, museum archives, and scant government records, their lavish inventory of commissioned portraits, jewellery, Regency silverware, and old master paintings is reproduced as photographic installations, postcards, and three-dimensional prints. Reconstruction, in this instance, becomes a sustained democratic gesture, allowing an increasingly forgetful public to access a collection that has remained unavailable through a systemic failure by successive post-dictatorial governments to institutionalize collective acts of remembering.
Forthcoming‘The Reconstruction of the Past is the Task of Historians and not Agents’Book Section
Kata Krasznahorkai ‘The Reconstruction of the Past is the Task of Historians and not Agents’: Operative Reenactment in State Security Archives
State security archives in Eastern Europe are shedding new light on the operative practices of the secret services and their interaction with performance art. Surveillance, tracking, undermining, disruption, writing of reports, and measure plans were different operative methods to be carried out in continuous repetitive processes. This paper argues that, through these repetitive working processes, state security agencies were permanently engaged in different forms of reenactments: of orders, legends, report writing, and inventing measure plans. With this operative reenactment, state security agencies not only tried to track down facts but also created ‘fake facts’ serving their agenda. These `fake-facts` were then again repeated and reenacted by informants endlessly to be `effective` in the surveillance and elimination of performance art.
ForthcomingThe Reenacted DoubleBook Section
The essay engages with a screenplay by Michel Foucault, written in 1970 for a film, not realized during Foucault’s lifetime, about Pablo Picasso’s Las Meninas, a series of 58 paintings that the artist made in 1957, taking up, updating, reinterpreting the famous painting with the same title by Diego Velázquez (1656). This screenplay is at the same time an example of critical reflection on reenactment in art history and itself a reenactment practice of sorts: the filmic repetition of an artistic repetition. It invites a reflection on the role of repetition as a critical operation: how doubles, reenacted images, and ‘counter-mimesis’ can become creative gestures and opening movements of transformation through plays of refraction, duplication, and multiplication of the realities and subjectivities at stake in them.
ForthcomingFrom Re- to Pre- and Back AgainBook Section
Tracing the complex history of the term ‘reenactment’, back to R.G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history, on the one hand, and popular practices of war reenactments and living history museums, on the other, a survey of its current contribution in art and museum practices highlights the importance of historicity — a category the postmodern was supposed to have vacated — in a wide range of examples, from Rod Dickinson and Jeremey Deller to Alexandra Pirici, Manuel Pelmuş, and Milo Rau. Performance reenactments, in particular, are premised on performance art having become historical, but also threaten to digest history in favour of a mere productivist mobilization for the needs of current attention economies. An alternative could be the attempt to counter historical with dramatic time in order to unlock unrealized possibilities and futures, as the term preenactment promises.
ForthcomingThe Reactivation of TimeBook Section
Cristina Baldacci, Clio Nicastro, and Arianna Sforzini, ‘The Reactivation of Time’, in Over and Over and Over Again: Reenactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory, ed. by Cristina Baldacci, Clio Nicastro, and Arianna Sforzini, Cultural Inquiry, 21 (Berlin: ICI Berlin Press, 2022), p. ix-xii <https://doi.org/10.37050/ci-21_01>
ForthcomingOver and Over and Over AgainBook
Over and Over and Over Again: Reenactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory Ed. by Cristina Baldacci, Clio Nicastro, and Arianna Sforzini
Over the last twenty years, reenactment has been appropriated by both contemporary artistic production and art-theoretical discourse, becoming a distinctive strategy to engage with history and memory. As a critical act of repetition, which is never neutral in reactualizing the past, it has established unconventional modes of historicization and narration. Collecting work by artists, scholars, curators, and museum administrators, the volume investigates reenactment's potential for a (re)activation of layered temporal experiences, and its value as an ongoing interpretative and political gesture performed in the present with an eye to the future. Its contributions discuss the mobilization of archives in the struggle for inclusiveness and cultural revisionism; the role of the body in the presentification and rehabilitation of past events and (impermanent) objects; the question of authenticity and originality in artistic practice, art history, as well as in museum collections and conservation practices.