Body as Archive

  • Yvonne Rainer, RoS Idexical, 2007, A Performa Commission, Photo -® Paula Court.

    Yvonne Rainer, RoS Idexical 2007. A Performa 07 Commission. Performance view. Courtesy of Performa Photo: Paula Court

Past Event


This event was on Sat 27 Jan, 3pm

Can the body be an archive?

Three contemporary artists present their approaches to this question. Coinciding with our exhibition Commissions from Performa’s Archive, this panel discussion investigates the relationship between performance and memory.

Artists working with performance have long-considered the question of how best to record ephemeral work, producing a wide range of experimental responses that think beyond traditional formats. The body can also be a tool for animating exiting archives, of performance and other histories, and we hear from artists for whom this is embedded in their practice.

Choreographer Matthias Sperling speaks about his projects investigating the relationship between the body and the mind, including the types of knowledge that are generated within choreography. Harold Offeh offers reflections on his politically charged performance projects that embody particular archives and histories, while Tori Wrånes will consider the challenges of documenting and archiving a practice where, as the primary performer, her own body is subject to extensive costuming and characterisation.

Supported by Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and the Norwegian Embassy London.

About the Speakers

Harold Offeh is an artist working in a range of media including performance, video, photography, learning and social arts practice. Offeh often employs humour as a means to confront the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture and is interested in the space created by the inhabiting or embodying of history. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including  at New Art Exchange in Nottingham, UK and  MAC VAL, Museum of Contemporary Art in Val de Marne, France. He’s been the 2017 Open House residency artist at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge and a summer artist in residence at Wysing Arts Centre and is currently a Reader in Fine Art and Leeds Beckett University.

Tori Wrånes is a vocalist and artist, and has a trans medial artistic practise, which unfolds as performance, sculptures, videos or installations. Her use of sounds, musical instruments, costumes, props, architecture and sculptures deforms her appearance and creates new rituals and dreamlike constellations. Her recent works include her solo Hot Pocket at Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo; the solo Ældgammel Baby / Ancient Baby, Kunsthal Charlottenborg Denmark ; DRASTIC PANTS, Carl Freedman Gallery London; STONE and SINGER commissioned by the 19Th Biennale of Sydney (2014); YES NIX, commissioned by PERFORMA 13 New York; Colombo Art Biennale, Sri Lanka; Dhaka Art Seminars, Dhaka Bangladesh; CCA Lagos, Nigeria; The Eccentrics Sculpture Center, New York.

Matthias Sperling is a choreographer and performer living and working in London, UK. His works include performances in theatre, gallery and museum contexts, video works, and exchanges that take place in public spaces and online. His work has been presented at Sadler’s Wells, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Southbank Centre, Royal Opera House, Wellcome Collection, Dance Umbrella, Nottdance and Springdance (NL), among others. He is a frequent collaborator with Siobhan Davies, together with whom he has created and presented works at galleries including the Barbican, ICA, Whitechapel, Hayward, Tramway and Turner Contemporary. He has taught extensively, both in the UK and internationally.

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