Some thinking to help get you started to consider the nature of how we remember performance:


6 thoughts on “ephemeral”

  1. Some artists maybe exploring this idea in how the museum/gallery/institution remember a performance/work. An complicit engagement with something that might invite a remembering/archiving beyond the ocular:

    From Tino Seghal’s Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tino_Sehgal

    “On the sale of his work, Sehgal stipulates that there is no written set of instructions, no written receipt, no catalogue, no pictures and no perceivable meaning. The conversation that constitutes a Tino Sehgal sale consists of his talking to the buyer (usually a representative from a museum) before a notary and witnesses, generally with about five legal stipulations of the purchase … and that if the buyer resells the concept, he does so with this same oral contract. This means that his work is not documented in any way, apart from critical reviews both admiring and negative.”

    and the Guggenheim’s: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/artists/bios/9153/Tino%20Sehgal

    “Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials. Along similar lines, he refuses documentation of his work through photographs, film, or video—mediums that would reify his work’s ephemeral situations and result in ancillary material products that could potentially be bought and sold. On the other hand, Sehgal does not subscribe to an ascetic, unrealistic ideal of a world without financial exchange: His situations may be bought and sold, and are infinitely repeatable. Through this delicate balancing act, Sehgal draws out difficult conversations about the function of art and possible new ways of understanding value, both aesthetic and economic.”

    Andrea Fraser’s Untitled (2003): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Fraser

    “In her videotape performance Untitled (2003), 60 minutes in duration, Fraser recorded a hotel-room sexual encounter at the Royalton Hotel in New York, with a private collector, who had paid close to $20,000 to participate, “not for sex, according to the artist, but to make an artwork.” According to Andrea Fraser, the amount that the collector had paid her has not been disclosed, and the “$20,000″ figure is way off the mark. Only 5 copies of the 60-minute DVD were produced, 3 of which are in private collections, 1 being that of the collector with whom she had had the sexual encounter; he had pre-purchased the performance piece in which he was a participant.”

    And I’ve always loved this story about John Berger, who donated his archive to the British Library on the condition that they (a) sort it out and (b) help on the farm during harvest:


    1. oooh, I’m confused – still haven’t really got the hang of this blog.
      Did I leave my previous comment as a reply to your post Paul, when it was meant to respond to Simon’s ephemeral post?
      Anyway, this really is a comment on yours – about the word “complicit” in your second sentence: I’m wondering if there’s a particular type of remembering created by complicit experiences & if so what and why?
      My immediate reaction was that complicity is some kind of compromise of personal integrity and that it may therefore be ‘remembered’ as some kind of mark or wound to this. A change in one’s sense of personal identity.


      1. I quite like this idea – I’m pretty keen on loose/malleable/permeable borders of the individual. Something that I think is quite cool here is that an idea of a mark/wound might not be observable to the subject – either that it changes them in a way they don’t notice, or that the nature of the effect transforms them to a place where they might not be able to access or understand (perhaps this might change over time) that shift.

        My gut feeling here is that these things might be hard to telegraph, might only be traced retrospectively – but I think Foucault/Agamben have lots to say about idea of signature/sign transforming the individual – e.g. baptism, uniform, rank, marks of criminality or otherness. These not only change the subject, but they also reconfigure how they are seen and behaved towards.

        I’m also think this could be extended into ideas of (temporary/located) social groups being formed or fragmented (aware the Fierce Festival’s tagline is Hyperlocal & Supernow). An overly poetic but possibly paradigmic example could be Francis Alys’ Looking Up:



  2. This question really resonates with me as I continue to process my experience at the Monastery a few weeks ago. I was there as part of the core team to discuss how we could extend the project into next year, but parallel to this planning there was a lab – working to harvest this summer’s experience through a performance tour of the Monastery for the village. This combination was a compromise initially – trying to meet a variety of desires for how to use the closing weeks of the residency – but became a real synergy. Discussing this with Noel, who facilitated the lab, three key ways in which I felt the performance would “remain” were: through changing our relationship with the village; changing my inner model of the monastery & grounds and by contributing to the results of the planning. The first two of these were primarily effected by the closing performance, the third by the overlapping of the lab process with the planning in time & space and the participation of some people in both. All three could be seen as alternative modes of “remembering”: through relationships; through spatial mapping & through decisions.


    1. I guess there is the other side of this coin which is, how might you desire or wish for disappearance, or how the apparent impossibility of disappearance be foregrounded in your practice/projects? (assuming this is appropriate to your project).


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