AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractConcerned with the ephemeral and how it is perceived when lost to the fractures of time, Peggy Phelan suggests “you have to be there.” Phelan states that ephemera, specifically performance “become[s] itself through disappearance,” which draws empathy with Walter Benjamin’s notion of the “aura of the original.” In practice this a less than pragmatic account of the reality of experiencing such artworks, for how can they exist beyond the moment of making if not recorded, in order to map their histories? Archival devices are however, problematic, for how do we suitably record the remains of these artworks that, by their very premise, deny longevity and fixity? This paper interrogates the critical, sensitive and individualized distance necessary when capturing ephemeral artwork to allow it to remain true to intent. Moving beyond the disciplinary ghettos of event and documentation, it interrogates how divergent and sympathetic modes of practice allow for a greater level of sustainable critique. This complex and problematic terrain will be analysed to question if appropriate documents, with the varied and differing demands of works of art, can ever be possible. Based on artworks within ‘The Alternative Document’ exhibition (Project Space Plus, Lincoln UK, 2016, which I curated to include a collection of archival documents reconfigured as new artworks) I discuss the potential for legacy beyond formal and traditional means. Through this, I will suggest how it is possible to move beyond formal academic, artistic and museological conventions when documenting and re-staging ephemeral art.
CitationBartram, A. (2018) ‘Ephemeral art and documenting the un-documentable’, [Presentation] Besides the Screen, Porto, 6 July.
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