Faith Wilding performing "Waiting With" during the Conference & Performance
Photograph: Jan Stradtmann
A programme with performances by artists of different generations, performance
interviews, discussions and theoretical reflections (Akademie der Künste,
Berlin, 22 – 25 January 2009) pursued the question of how performance can
be archived, documented and re-enacted, and introduced current strategies
of gender-critical and interventionist performance. What motivates young
artists today to refer to feminist performance art from the 1960s and 70s?
And what does this return mean for the future?
The conference was held in English. In the following you will find
the Lectures as audio files.
Short abstracts of the talks and performances open when the title is
A pdf version of the programme is available: here
I. Beyond the canon:
feminism(s) and performance art in the 1960s and 70s
The “performative impulse” -
a look back on some transgressive scenes of 20th-century art
Lecture by Silvia Eiblmayr (A) (Art Historian and Curator)
The transgression of canonized forms of representation in modernism
which were triggered by new techniques for producing images was accompanied by a "performative impulse" which turned the image into a stage. Embedded in these scenarios is a subversion of the "dominant fiction" (Kaja Silverman) of what is "masculine" and what is "feminine" – a decisive step within feminist criticism of conventional
pictorial politics from the 1960s onward.
When Private was not Political: Making Sex in State-Socialism
Lecture by Bojana Pejić (SRB / D) (Art Historian and Curator)
This lecture deals with four works produced during the Communist
period in Yugoslavia and Poland and which all deal with active female sexuality. The first to be discussed is a short film by the Yugoslav director Dusan Makavejev, followed by a performance by Polish artist Natalia LL, a performance by Sanja Iveković and finally one by Marina Abramović. All of these works can be read as a form of resistance to the domineering Socialist patriarchy and are recognized today as examples of "latent feminism" (Zora Rusnikova)
Artist talk by Lorraine O'Grady (USA)
O’Gradys informal talk deals with her work as a black performance artist at a time when feminist performance was almost exclusively white. "Representing" is an African-American slang term for the problematic that has frequently confronted minority artists and intellectuals both then and now – that of speaking not just for themselves individually, but as representatives of a minority. O’Grady discusses her work’s ambivalent acceptance and refusal of that task.
Feminist Performance Art in France in the 1970s
Lecture by Fabienne Dumont (F) (Art Historian)
Of all the ’68ers in France, women artists were at the center of two radical movements: the women’s liberation movement and the effervescence of politicized artistic practices dominated by men. In this context, many women artists broke with their past practices
and sought to fit their feminist awareness with the meaning of their art. Several groups of women artists also emerged which provided the framework for several performances, while others were carried out independently. This talk analyzes some of these performances - particularly in relation to the historical context in France (Orlan, Lea Lublin, Françoise Janicot, Gina Pane, Nil Yalter, Nicola, Lygia Clark, etc.).
Body Action. Performative tendencies in East
Lecture by Angelika Richter D (Art Researcher and Curator)
This lecture provides an introduction into the specific political and cultural situation in the GDR which has to be taken into account when we take a closer look at the visual arts and especially at the work by female (underground) artists. The lecture will follow the question why there has neither been a feminist tradition in the fine arts nor the emergence of a performance art in East Germany in the 1960s and early 1970s. We have to rethink the idea and notion
of "performance" when we look at the crossover of facial and body paint actions, action experiments with costumes and masks, Dadaistic theatre plays, expressive dance and music sessions, play readings, plein air meetings, environments, improvisations, super 8 films and later the rituals of the so-called "Autoperforationsartisten"
that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s (with performances by Erika Stürmer-Alex, Karla Woisnitza, Christine Schlegel, Fine Kwiatkowski, Cornelia Schleime and Else Gabriel).
Frauenkultur – Kontaktversuch
Lecture by Ulrike Rosenbach (D)
Frauenkultur – Kontaktversuch was originally the title of a live video performance piece that I did in 1977. At that time I had been working as an artist for almost ten years during which I focused on artistic themes of women’s art. Already in 1969 I had meet women artists who were part of the women’s art movement– mainly American artists and groups in Los Angeles and New York. In 1976 I founded the "School of Creative Feminism" (Schule für kreativen Feminismus) as a collective which studied and discussed the cultural history of women and women’s art.
II Reappropriation in contemporary performative
talk by Tania Bruguera (CU) (Artist)
Tania Bruguera looks at ways in which re-enactment has been performed in recent years in relation to the contextual urgencies that generated the source performance and its desired permanence or impermanence.
Remimesis: Feminism, Theatricality, and Acts of
by Rebecca Schneider (USA) (Professor for Theatre, Speech and Dance,
This talk explores the relationship between the troubled temporality
of mimesis – a well-known gendered condition in Western patriarchy – and the feminist and queer politics of contemporary re-enactment art. What time is now? What time is N.O.W.? If the feminine has long been articulated through the pose, the posed, the imposed, and impersonated, what time is the feminine? How is the temporality (and theatricality) of the pose deployed in current artworks invested in critical inquiry? This lecture is part of a larger project that explores the intermedial leaks and gaps between performance, theatre, and photography.
Film (13 min, 2008) and Artist talk by Artists Pauline
Boudry and Renate Lorenz (D)
The film reenacts a photograph of the ‚bearded Lady’ Annie Jones (1865–1902). It shows the performer Werner Hirsch dealing with, and restaging her photograph and her social position. The photograph crosses through two different contexts: It travelled from the freak show in the Barnum Circus, where she was presented as a 'wonder' (for a fee), to the medical theater, where she was shown in the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld’s book 'Geschlechtskunde, Bilderteil' as a potential 'patient.' But what happens in the production of normality and deviance, if the 'object of knowledge' assumes the position of the producer of knowledge, starts laughing and opens up the history of knowledge production once again? The image of an empty auditorium assigns a position to the potential audience: N.O.body.
III Performance art in the public sphere
The Body Public: From Private Performance to Public Policy in Feminist Art
Lecture by Suzanne Lacy (USA)
Suzanne Lacy covers three decades of work and, as a pioneer in both performance art and feminist art from the 1970s, her work today
in the public sector – as performance and installation art that continues to explore the relevance and politics of gender.
(Katrin Grögel D & Andrea Saemann CH):
Interview with Sanja Iveković (HR)
Performance Saga transmits and updates the history of Performance
Art on many different levels and promotes a dialogue between the generations. The project includes the conception and realization of performance pieces, the publication of video interviews and the planning of events. Performance Saga is a project by the artist Andrea Saemann and the art historian Katin Grögel, their contribution to the conference of re.act.feminism is a live interview with the artist Sanja Iveković.
IV Performance, Copyright and Archive
Reactions and responses to the performance programme from André Lepecki
(USA) (Dramaturg, Writer and Curator)
Archival Events and Eventful Archives
Lecture by Paul Clarke (UK) (Research Fellow „Performing the Archive“,
University of Bristol & Arnolfini)
How do documents perform and how are the archives that hold them performative? Can the production, circulation and reception of performance documents be included within the time frame of the works themselves? How do performances remain and produce residues that can be retained? Where are these traces placed for posterity? What is the position of ephemeral remains, held in individual or collective memory, distributed word-of-mouth as rumours, hearsay and oral accounts? Can performance document or archive itself? This lecture draws on the Great Western Research project Performing the Archive: the Future of the Past, which is based in the University of Bristol Theatre Collection's Live Art Archives and Arnolfini Live's Archives.
An approach of a Feminist
Lecture by Laurence Rassel (B / E) (Artistic Director of Fundació Antoni
This is an intervention based on concrete examples, works and investigations in progress which are tempt(ed) to build an archive as a multiple network of relations between objects of different formats with various objectives (comments, transcriptions, texts, rough sounds, recordings, creations) situated in a precise and ongoing context. I define the archive as active, and I will add, as feminist, meaning it is conceived as a process, as an invitation to re-read, to transmit knowledge and practices in a flow, in the rhythm of contemporary
artistic and cultural practices.
Lecture by Chris Regn (D) (Archive of Women Artists „Bildwechsel“,
Bildwechsel was established in 1979 as an umbrella organisation for women and their representation in media, culture and art. Based in Hamburg, it acts as a platform and as an infrastructure that holds a video archive with roughly 7000 titles, a library, and different archives and collections. Its aim is to present a panoramic view of the work of women artists, especially of those working over the last 30 years. Related Bildwechsel projects have also been established in Basel, Berlin, Warsaw and Glasgow. Chris Regn will introduce this art project that produces interviews and video documentation and maintains archive collections on women and media art.
From Presenter to Preserver:
Martha Wilson reviews 30 years of events and their documentation
talk by Martha Wilson (USA)
(Artist and Director of Franklin Furnace New York)
In her talk, Wilson shows the steamy side of the avant-garde, with a focus on the artists Karen Finley and Annie Sprinkle, as well as other Bad Grrrls.