On Re-Act Feminism

Bettina Knaup, Beatrice Ellen Stammer

Charming for the Revolution
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Charming for the Revolution, 2009, Perfomer Werner Hirsch, Photo Andrea Thal

In the context of the current trend of the historicization and institutionalization of performance art, our goals are: 

>> To investigate feminist, gendercritical and queer strategies within performance art from the 1960s to the early 1980s as well as the “return” of this artistic practice in the form of re-enactments, re-formulations and archival projects. 

>> To go beyond current strategies of canonisation and stress the diversity of performative practices beyond Western normativity.

>> To create a critical and thematic cartography to promote a transcultural and cross-generational dialogue. 

>> To highlight the complex relationship between live performances, their traces and documents, and their reception.

re.act.feminism #2—a performing archive is a continually expanding temporary and living performance archive travelling through six European countries from 2011 to 20131. In its current version it presents feminist, gendercritical and queer performance art by 125 artists and artist collectives from the 1960s to the beginning of the 1980s, as well as contemporary positions in the form of videos, films, photographs and texts. The research focus is on artworks from Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the U.S. and countries in Latin America. On its route through Europe—starting in Spain and continuing through Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Denmark and ending in Germany—this temporary archive will continue to expand through research of the partner institutions and cooperation with various art academies and universities. It will also be “animated” through exhibitions or screenings or performances or workshops along the way, which will continuously contribute to the archive. 

The works 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 the discovery of singular subjectivities and connections between life and art. 

The project is based on the idea of a living archive. We do not stress the artefacts and documents as such, and we do not focus primarily on the archival function of preserving and conserving. On the contrary, we emphasise their use, re-use, appropriation and reinterpretation. In other words, we are interested in the “productivity” of the document: What effect does it 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 its recipient? What types of references and interpretations are offered by the archive? 

re.act.feminism is a manner of time travel that invites us to engage in a lively dialogue beyond the limits of time and space. Our focus is not on historical reconstruction, but rather on infectious gestures and productive translations.

  • 1. Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (October 7, 2011–January 15, 2012); Instytut Sztuki Wyspa, Gdansk, Poland (March 23 – April 22, 2012); Galerija Miroslav Kraljević, Zagreb, Croatia (May 5-26, 2012); Museet for Samtidskunst, Roskilde, Denmark (June 16 – August 19, 2012); Tallinna Kunstihoone, Tallinn, Estonia (August 27 - September 23, 2012); Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, Spain (November 15, 2012 - February 15, 2013); Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany (June 21 – September 1, 2013).