Forever and A Day: Archiving Performa

This day-long conference poses the challenge of imagining a comprehensive performance archive to a series of artists, activists, and scholars. With the recent acquisition of the Performa Archives by NYU’s Fales Library, Performa is on course to develop its online archive to house the past twelve years of the biennial’s activities. At a time when performance art’s prominence intensifies within the larger artistic culture and community today, this conference seeks to develop an expansive conception of “archive” that goes beyond physical and digital items to consider the Performa archive as a collection of ideas, activities, and experiences that have a life of their own.

The day begins with a series of short presentations from artists who se practices revolve around archives. Drawing upon their previous experiences as well as archive case studies, Performa artists and panelists will propose new digital platforms, designs, software, and syllabi for establishing the foundation of Performa’s archives. Organized by Marc Arthur, Head of Research and Archives at Performa. 



12pm – 12:15pm  Arrival & Welcome, RoseLee Goldberg & Marc Arthur


12:15pm – 1:30pm  Creative Approaches to the Archive

(15min presentations)


Anthony Elms, Chief Curator ICA Philadelphia

On life’s greater meaning and my latest fling


Sur Rodney (Sur), Independent curator and archivist

How does one archive the ephemeral nature of performance?


C. Spencer Yeh, Artist

The One That Got Away


Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt

Archiving Countervisuality                    


Deena Engel, Director, Program in Digital Humanities and Social

Science Department of Computer Science, NYU

Artist Archives Initiative and the Joan Jonas Knowledge Base 


Barbara Clausen, Curator and Professor at Université du Québec in Montreal

Archival Love


1:30 – 2:30pm  Lunch Break


2:30 – 4:30pm  Performa Archives Roundtable—How to Archive Performa?                                    


Anthony Elms (ICA Philadelphia)

Barbara Clausen (Université du Québec in Montreal)

Deena Engel (Digital Humanities, NYU)

RoseLee Goldberg (Performa)

Tara Hart (Whitney Museum)

Michael Katchen (Franklin Furnace)

Jon Kessler (Columbia University)

Molly Kleiman (Triple Canopy)

Nicholas Mirzoeff (NYU Stienhardt)

Sur Rodney (Sur) (Independent curator and archivist)

Marvin Taylor (Fales Collection, NYU)

Paul Soulellis (Rhode Island School of Design)

C. Spencer Yeh (Artist)

2:30pm: Introductions

3:30pm: Jon Kessler and Mika Rottenberg’s, Seven

4:15pm: Performa Institute artist classes (2009), Performa 07 ephemera (brochures, flyers, programs).


4:30pm – 5pm  Wrap up

Marc Arthur will lead a discussion with Performa staff, the archives advisory board, other participants, and the audience.

Image credit: Boris Chamatz, Musée de la Danse: Expo Zéro, Performa 11. Photo© Paula Court.