Museum and Curatorial Studies     
University of California, Santa Cruz     

Andrea Fraser as 'Jane Castleton' in 1989THE MACS 2010-2011 RESEARCH THEME IS:

As part of the transnational phenomenon sometimes referred to as the "dematerialization of the art object" in the 1960s and 70s, artists frequently worked with performance in direct opposition to mainstream art institutions, believing their works could not be collected or commodified. During the 1980s and 1990s, artists such as Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gomez-Peņa, James Luna, Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis and Andrea Fraser continued to use performance as a potent mode of institutional critique that denaturalized the museum's role in colonialism and social control.

Today, and regardless of artist intentions, the remains or "leftovers" of performance art have come to be incorporated into museums and galleries (as well as classrooms) as surrogates for an event, mnemonic aids, performative fragments, or art objects in their own right. What's more, in recent years, performance artists and process-based works have been increasingly featured in mainstream exhibitions. Examples include the "laboratory" galleries of the Palais de Tokyo, Marina Abramovic's popular and controversial retrospective The Artist is Present (2010), Museo del Barrio's Arte No es Vida survey exhibition of Latin American performance art (2008), the ongoing Performa Biennale, and many others. All of the above have led to a variety of results, mutually transforming the identity of performace art and its space of exhibition - and once again calling into question the roles of the artist, the curator, and the audience. What limitations do institutional spaces (such as the museum) pose for performers and curators of performance? What is the role of the curator in exhibiting new performances and/or reactivating those that have already taken place? What is the significance of performance in the history of exhibition, and what new display methods can it enable?
Readings and discussions will relate to any exhibitions dealing with performance. We emphasize both historical and contemporary approaches in the Speaker Series and conference activities for this year.

The MACS office is 431 Humanities One
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