re.act.feminism #2 - a performing archive was a continually expanding, temporary and living performance archive that travelled through six European countries from 2011 to 2013.
The core of the project was a mobile archive and workstation with a growing collection of videos, photographs and other documents of feminist, gendercritical and queer performance art. It was a transnational and crossgenerational project featuring works by artists and artist collectives from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, as well as contemporary positions from Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean and Middle East, the US and in Latin America. On its journey through Europe –starting in Spain and continuing through Poland, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia and ending in Germany- this temporary archive continued to expand through local research and cooperation with art institutions, academies and universities. It was also ‘activated’ through exhibitions, screenings, performances and discussions along the way.
re.act.feminism #2 – a performing archive is part of a long-term project. In 2008, we began engaging with feminist, gender-critical and queer performance art from the 1960s to the early ‘80s as well as the ‘return’ of this artistic practice in the form of re-enactments, re-formulations and archival projects.
For the full programme of „re.act.feminism # 1: performance art of the 1960’s and 70’s today“ please click here
The project is also part of the growing interest in performance art in recent years. The abundance of exhibitions, publications and events all testify to this interest, especially on the part of institutions and artists, in the history of performance and its representation. Artists in particular are critically addressing the history of performance using the most diverse methods and formats, while also exploring its current potential for resistance and subversion in continually new and experimental ways. In this way, they were the most important impulse for the re.act.feminism project.
However, despite its recent popularity, the feminist, gender-critical and queer performance practice that has set the tone for this medium from the beginning has seldom been subject to thorough scrutiny in all its international diversity. Against the backdrop of the current trend of institutionalising and historicising performance art, the goal of this project has therefore been
- to explore feminist, gender-critical and queer artistic positions that have played a key role in the development of this form of expression, looking beyond the (primarily Western) canon by stressing the diversity of performance strategies and practices internationally;
- to make documentation and archive materials which are scattered internationally and often difficult to access, available to a broader audience, even if only for a short time;
- to reflect performance’s cross-generational and transnational dimensions, encouraging a dialogue, communication and referencing across borders of time and space;
- and to reflect the complex relationship between live performances, their traces/documents and their reception, and the more general issue of archiving ephemeral and subversive artistic practices.
The works in the archive have been chosen based on their potential and relevance for today’s feminist and queer debates and artistic strategies. They allow us to see the power relations inscribed in the body as well as its potential for resistance and for pleasure, and to discover singular subjectivities and connections between life and art.
The project is based on the idea of a living archive, emphasizing the use, appropriation, and re-interpretation of documents: What effect does the performance document have in the moment of its reception, what does it do? What kind of relationship does it create between the past and the future, between its author and recipient? What types of references, new relations and future potentials does the archive offer?
The archive was on the road for almost two years, and our partner institutions were not only the hosts of this travelling exhibition, they essentially became co-curators. They chose how to present the exhibition and events at their institutions, and they contributed materials to the archive. Thus, within this collaborative network, the archive grew to include works by more than 180 artists and continued to invite countless visitors and users to be touched, affected and inspired by queer and feminist gestures.
With the publication of the re.act.feminism book
the project drew to a close in 2014. On this site you can find information about the range of public activities that took place as part of the project. The archive section
is designed as a continuous research tool providing information about all participating artists.
Bettina Knaup and Beatrice E. Stammer, curators
cross links e.V.