TATE LIVE: Performance Room

By Teresa de Andrés. May 15, 2012


Let’s be honest: performance has earned its label as the weird genre par excellence in the art world. Indeed, its reception is constantly creating controversy; it is one of the most delicate artistic practices: it is loved and hated in (almost) equal proportions. Performance is pure physicality; it is presence, action, reaction, body, look. Performance Room, Tate Modern’s recent initiative of digital curating, is born to answer the need of a higher participation and transmission of the act of artistic creation over the Internet (hurrah!). The aim is to convey the performance to a wider audience through a series of acts commissioned and conceived exclusively to take place in the vague and intangible virtual space. The actions are streamed live but will also be available afterwards –and forever– in Tate Modern’s fantastic archive.



So far we have enjoyed two of the five performances that make up the series: we could see Jerôme Bel receiving instructions from his clothes as he was taking them off and Pablo Bronstein turned into the main character of a Turkish fantasy of dance and mirrors. On the 31st of May, the North-American Emily Roysdon will reveal her "I Am a Helicopter, Camera, Queen", followed by Harrell Fletcher’s proposal. Joan Jonas, one of the pioneers of the genre, will be in charge of closing the series; surely embodying interesting reflections on what performance was, is and could be in this future present.



The idea of having a performance with no audience and with all the audience in the world at the same time –at least potentially– extends the difficulty of the reception and document of the ephemeral experience. For many, performance only makes sense when it is experienced live, when you can say “I was there”: I cut off a piece of Yoko Ono’s clothes, I felt the naked skin of Marina Abramovic and Ulay, I played with Allan Kaprow in a backyard surrounded by tyres.

We will have to find new ways to cope with the presence, the virtual and the tangible in these times of scattered audiences, thirsty for bodies and spaces.

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