Who performs (live) is inevitably confronted with the issue of documentation. Still, photography
and video, are the main mediums in terms of the documentation of live performances. However, shortcomings result in the translation of the live event to another medium, whether digital or analogue type. The complexity of various performances can not just be preserved by saving the visual and auditory moments. Therefore, many artists understand the documentation not only as a preservation of a past event, but give a new and important meaning to the documentation itself. Exactly at this point, our interest starts. If the circuit of documentation is not stopped in the need for preservation, but gets into a self-sufficient process, the documentation becomes the protagonist and the protagonist will turn into another performer. Either the performative work is inseparable from its documentation
Text: Thomas Geiger, Veronika Merklein
For performance evening PANik3 - Performance as Documentation we tried to find positions which attempt to transact aspects of documentation in their performative art works.
Katrin Herzner, for example, would not even describe herself as a performer. In "Live Hörbuch OST" Performance and its documentation meet one another - without any means of recording and only through the listeners.
The work of Pascale Grau combines complex and precise theories about the documentation in performance hier fehlt noch was.
Julia Kläring and Andrea Salzmann reconstruct events, through witnesses to history and relicts which results in a new lively story. The work also deals with questioning the current working condition of artists.
Whereas the Cyberformance collective UpStage is confronted in 'The Net and the Butterfly' with the question wether one can document a physical Event at all. Here the term 'live' and 'not-live' is disputable from scratch.
For Billy X.Curmano art equals life. His performances mostly happen on imponderable terrain. In order to reach a live audience, he translates the past event for and on another stage.
The medium "photography" is not able to show Kathrin Herzner's work. In this perspective, her work remains undocumented.
Kathrin Herzner about Performance and Documentation
Any kind of documentation of events destroys their essential basis: the simultaneity of perception and content. The same applies to performative forms of expression: Photographs and descriptions are merely inadequate tools that satisfy the destructive desire to preserve something whose essence is to appear and disappear. Documentation is not an alternative to reality, but can become an independent part of a work.
Julia Kläring and Andrea Salzmann on Performance and Documentation
Photo and video are the most common documents for past performances - but not everything can be read out of them.
Interviewing witnesses allows for a different view of what happened. However, it is a controversial method, because objectivity cannot be expected here. Some testimonies lead us on interesting tracks in the tangle of live art history, and tell of things that photography and video cannot capture. The witness, however, always speaks about himself:herself, and about the place and time of the questioning, even about the questioner. As with any documentation of a time- and place-specific action, performance history leaves a
great room for interpretation for later viewers. This space is open for new possibilities of action and for the future.
Billy X. Curmano on performance and documentation
Live performances are often difficult to comprehend unless you were part of the event. Documenting a performance within a new performance, however, creates a new live moment that both
illuminates an earlier moment and creates a new one on the other. In the end, these are all just attempts to create traces to prove that we exist.
UpStage on Performance and Documentation
As with live performances, the sense of immediacyand 'being in the moment' disappears in documentations of cyberperformances. Additionally, cyberperformances blur the distinction between 'live' and 'non-live' through the multiple authorship and multi-layered kit in the composition of the various digital media and their intermediality. On the one hand, as artists we struggle against capturing the moment. On the other hand, we are dependent
- for funding, promotion, research, etc. - to document what is otherwise exceedingly ephemeral.
Pascale Grau on Performance and Documentation
I start from the assumption that performance itself is a form of document that continues to write cultural practices and reveals contingencies. I use the performative power of a document. By (media) documents I mean primary products that are part of the performances (e.g. sketches, concepts, recorded videos and sounds). To be distinguished from this are documentations in the sense of secondary products (e.g. video recordings, photos and texts by third parties). Since performance art presupposes the co-presence of actor and spectator, the voice of the witness must be included in the mediation of a performance.
PANik3 - Performance as Documentation was created as part of the performance series PANik of the Performance Art Network Vienna.
Video: Nils Olger
Photo: Claudia Rohrauer
Text: Nicole Sabella