“Collecting and Conserving Performance Art”

The German Association of Conservator-Restorers (VDR) is delighted to announce the major international symposium “Collecting and Conserving Performance Art,” to be hosted by the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany on June 9-11, 2016.

Gerard & Kelly, “Timelining” (2014), Performance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Photo: Courtesy of the artists

Over the last decade, art collections and museums around the world have seen a rapid increase in the acquisition of historic and contemporary performance art and its relics. This emerging collection practice challenges artists and collection caretakers alike: How can the time- and site-specific experience of an artist’s live performance be expanded and transformed into an artwork with a sustainable collection life? What status do performance props and documentary materials hold within a collection, and how is their status determined? How can the artwork’s identity and integrity be preserved and experienced now and in the future? What information and components should be entering the collection to ensure the authentic reactivation of the work? How are copyright laws, artist’s rights and future interpreter’s rights accounted for in the acquisition contract? What are the vulnerabilities inherent to a performance artwork? And how are preservation risks identified, documented and responded to?
The two-and-a-half day event approaches issues surrounding the acquisition of performance art by bringing together conservators, curators, art historians, artists, collectors, researchers, art educators and other professionals, who are involved in the production, distribution, collection, documentation and conservation of performance art. Perspectives on heritage development and documentation in adjacent disciplines, such as theater and dance, are invited to inform the discussion. Under investigation will be a variety of existing practices for bringing an artist’s live performance into a  collection, including the license to re-perform the work based on an artist-provided score; film and video recordings of historic or recent performance iterations; autonomous art installations; documentation created by former audiences, participants and producers; and performance props and other objects that represent the live event.

undefinedRead more about the conference in an interview with the team of organisators

Program Flyer

Contact: performance_art(at)restauratoren.de

Program details


Reception and Live Performance (Day 1): Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Hollerplatz 1, 38440 Wolfsburg/ Germany

Symposium (Day 2 and Day 3): Alvar-Aalto-Kulturhaus, Porschestr. 51, 38440 Wolfsburg/ Germany


Thursday, June 9

Conference Opening and Reception

Dr. Ralf Beil
Director, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg

Introduction Roman Ondak
Anna-Catharina Gebbers, Curator, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin

Live Performance “Swap” (2011) by Roman Ondak
undefinedSponsored by Volkswagen AG


Friday, June 10
 8:30-9:30   Registration


Dr. Ralf Beil
Director, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
Andrea Sartorius
Conservator, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, and Chair, Specialty Group “Modern Art and Cultural Heritage”, German Association of Conservators-Restorers (Verband der Restauratoren, VDR)

The Medium Performance

Moderator: Andrea Sartorius

Collecting as Artistic and Documentary Practice: Towards a Fluid Access to Artefacts of/in Performance
Dr. Barbara Büscher
Professor, Felix Mendelssohn School of Music, Department of Dramaturgy and Media, Leipzig
Dr. Franz Anton Cramer
Department of Studies in Music and Dance, Paris Lodron University Salzburg

Between Media. Connections between Performance and Installation Art and their Implications for the Conservation of Performances
Dr. Tiziana Caianiello
Art Historian, ZERO Foundation

11:00-11:30  Coffee

Collecting Live Performance

Moderator: Ulrich Lang

Collecting Live Performance at the Guggenheim Museum
Joanna Phillips
Conservator, Time-based Media, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Lauren Hinkson
Assistant Curator, Collections, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Assembling the Body, Reactivating Presence: Collecting, Processing, and Conserving Performance at The Museum of Modern Art
Athena Christa Holbrook
Collection Specialist, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art

Panel Discussion: Collecting Live Performance
with artist Roman Ondak, performer Sämi Moor, Joanna Phillips, Lauren Hinkson, and Athena Christa Holbrook

Moderator: Ulrich Lang, Conservator, Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt   

13:00-14:30 Lunch

Documenting Live Performance

Moderator: Julia Giebeler

Report from the Audience. An Analysis regarding the Documentation of Performance Art by means of multi-perspective Witness Reports
Bruna Casagrande
Conservator and Research Assistant, Berne University of Fine Arts, Switzerland

Participatory Documentation, or: How to mark Authenticity within a Documentary Record
Irene Müller
Art Historian and Curator, Zürich

A Fly on the Wall or the Elephant in the Room: the Role of the Photographer in the Production and Viewing of Photographic Documentation from Performance Art Events
Dr. Dave Kemp
Photographer and Assistant Professor, School of Image Arts, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

16:00-16:30 Coffee

Archiving Performance Art

Moderator: Gunnar Heydenreich

Archiving Performance Art in Asia
David Smith
Head of Digital, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong

The Legalities of Authenticity
 and Performance Art
Jean E. Brown
Teaching Fellow, Northumbria University, UK                                 
Charles Danby
Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Northumbria University, UK

Panel Discussion: Documenting and Archiving Performance Art
With Bruna Casagrande, Irene Müller, Dave Kemp, David Smith, Jean E. Brown and Charles Danby

Moderator: Dr. Gunnar Heydenreich, Professor for Conservation of Contemporary Art, Cologne University of Applied Sciences


Saturday, June 11

 8:30-9:30  Registration

Performance Relics

Moderator: Anna-Catharina Gebbers

From Action to Object. On the Preservation and Conservation of Performance Art Relics
Dr. Carolin Bohlmann
Conservator, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Ina Hausmann
Freelance Conservator, Berlin
Eva Rieß
Conservator, Müller Rieß Welther Restoration, Berlin

The variable and changing Status of Performance Art Relics and Artifacts in Museum Collections
Louise Nicole Cone
Conservator of Contemporary Art and Sculpture, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark   

Capturing Ephemerality: Documentation of Carolee Schneemann’s Performance Work
Rachel Rivenc
Conservation Scientist, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles
Anja Foerschner
Art historian, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles   

11:00-11:30  Coffee

Reenactment and Reperformance

Moderator: Eva Rieß

Restoration of Experience. Analysis of the Reenactment of the Performance “Change. My Problem Is a Problem of a Woman”, by Ewa Partum, 1974
Elżbieta Wysocka
Conservator and Archivist, Filmotheka Narodowa, Warsaw

Between Authenticity and Context: Challenges of preserving and re-enacting Performance Artworks from Dictatorship and Revolutionary Periods
Hélia Marçal
PhD Fellow in Conservation and Restoration, Department of Conservation and Restoration, Faculty of Science and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal
Rita Macedo
Professor of Contemporary Art History and Documentation, Art History Institute, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal

Reperformance Strategies for the Reiteration of Tino Sehgal's "This Is So Contemporary"
Jessye Wdowin McGregor
Artist and Conservator, Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, Australia
Robert Lane
Research Fellow, Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, The University of Melbourne, Australia

13:00-14:30  Lunch

Panel Discussion: Managing Authenticity - Curatorial Strategies of Reenactment and Reperformance
Anna-Catharina Gebbers in conversation with Tiziana Caianiello, Barbara Büscher, Franz Anton Cramer and Irene Müller


Open Floor Discussion with the Audience

Moderator: Joanna Phillips