The ‘Extended Life’ of Performance: Curating 1960s Multimedia Art in the Contemporary Museum

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Over recent decades, museums have begun to re-evaluate the role of performance art within their collections and exhibitions. This essay reflects on my curatorial approach toward presenting Ivor Davies’s 1968 event-structured and multimedia work Adam on St Agnes’ Eve as part of the 2015 exhibition Silent explosion. Ivor Davies and destruction in art at National Museum Wales, Cardiff. I discuss how this approach differs from customary modes of exhibiting historical performance art in museums, including documentary archival displays or live re-enactments. Drawing on concepts of ‘changeability’ (Hölling 2017), ‘material multiplicity’ (Lillemose 2006), ‘remediation’ (Bolter & Grusin 1999) and ‘proliferative preservation’ (Rinehart & Ippolito 2014), I consider how Davies’s historical performance transformed in the context of the exhibition through its remediation into a performative archival environment and a re-performance. Here arises the question of what constitutes the artwork’s identity in performance. This essay concludes with a reflection on the necessary but often contentious material transformations of performance art in museological contexts and speculates on the relationship between the work’s material identity, authorship, and authenticity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Explicit Material
    Subtitle of host publicationInquiries on the Intersection of Curatorial and Conservation Cultures
    EditorsHanna B. Hölling, Francesca G. Bewer, Katharina Ammann
    PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
    Number of pages25
    ISBN (Electronic)9789004396852
    Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2019


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