Topic: thesis on documenting performance art - LP week at Frascati- January 2009

OPENING THESIS
CATALOG OF ENCOUNTERS: ENCOUNTER WITH MARGA VAN MECHELEN
FRASCATI, AMSTERDAM, JANUARY 22nd 2009



In his essay THE GALLERY AS GESTURE, Brian O'Doherty defines the ARTISTIC GESTURE as a singular artistic action, an individualist, daring act. The successful gesture created a narrative, became a story by changing history. He writes furthermore that these gestures – in his case gallery performances and installations mostly of the nineteen-sixties – always had two audiences, one present and another one not present, which, as he writes, „is usually us“. We, as this second audience, are looking back at the „event“ of a performance as a historical fact, an occurrence.



Many of the performances that took place at the DE APPEL performance space in Amsterdam during its formative years between 1975 and 1983 can be understood as GESTURES in O'Doherty's sense. To do so, means to regard them in their historical perspective and to constitute this same diversity of encounters over the course of time. In fact, three kinds of audiences can be constituted: Besides us, who encounter the narratives, documentations or relicts of a historic performance, there is the audience present which was or in retrospect becomes part of the event (1), and the audience which produced these narratives, documentations or relicts (2). First and second audiences are often but not necessarily the same, while the third audience, despite not having been present, can engage in the production of discourse around the event, thereby becoming part of the second audience.



We propose to describe the performance activity of Moniek Toebosch (1978), Ben D'Armagnac and Gerrit Dekker (both 1975) and others as creation of narrative and more pointedly as endeavors in the creation of modern myths. They were hence directed towards a trinity of audiences and ultimately towards the collective memory and towards history. In understanding the nature of encounter, i.e. the relationship between art work and observer, describing performance art as endeavors in creation of modern myths shifts the focus away from the ephemeral work itself and its audience (audience 1) towards the documentation of and discourse around the historic occurrence. Borrowing the terminology from Jacques Ranciere this operation constitutes a shift from the performance to the text.


JP Possmann & D Weber-Krebs




















SOURCES


Brian O'Doherty THE GALLERY AS GESTURE, in INSIDE THE WHITE CUBE, 1986


Jacques Ranciere LE DESTIN DES IMAGES, 2003


Marga Van Mechelen DE APPEL. PERFORMANCES, INSTALLATIONS,
VIDEO, PROJECTS, 2006