Performance art is an art form essentially tied to the act of live performance and the exchange of energy between the audience and the artist. While documentation is possible, and through that documentation re-exhibition, the artwork is fundamentally changed by the change in medium. We believe that in this change of medium, much of the power and impact of the original work is lost. We believe that performance is best exhibited as a performance.
The question then becomes, how is this work reconstructed and remounted? Is it possible to recreate this work outside of its original artistic milieu?
We believe the answer is yes provided that the artistic goal is not in fact an exact recreation of the artistic performance. We maintain that, from the scores and documentation provided by the artists (the formal structure), we can re-perform these works and consider that re-performance a successful display of the piece: far more successful, in fact, than the video and photographic archives that often pass for re-exhibition of performance work but instead serve only as documentation.
We do not seek to reconstruct a previous artist’s performance exactly. This would in fact deaden the reperformative experience and break the contract of honesty between the performer and the audience. We do not watch videos of performances with an eye towards exact recreation, and we do not seek to mimic the artist’s experience or outward countenance. Performance is a wild thing and a key part of performance art is, in fact, its unpredictability and its moment-to-moment honesty. We consider our re-performances successes regardless of whether or not the outcome is identical, provided that we have stayed within the formal structure delineated by the documentation of the work.