‘Curating Performance’ workshop at the Arnolfini

Published on the Arnolfini and Young Arnolfini blogs

Thursday 12th – Friday 13th September 2013

This two-day workshop on curating performance at the Arnolfini comprised of lectures and artists’ talks considering themes such as the relationship between social spaces, aesthetic experience and the audience, as well as similarities between curator and dramaturge. The opportunities and limitations associated with contextualising time-conscious work and live art were also considered. Additionally, notions of staging, movement, image and body were pertinent tropes throughout.

Jamie Eastman, the Arnolfini’s curator of performance, introduced the workshop and set the scene by asking the burning and complex question of what is a curator. He suggested a curator was a mediator of live moments, someone who is concerned with the production and presentation of narratives, and whose role links to theatre. Another memorable moment from the introduction was Eastman’s suggestion that the context for live performances is highly important as each event is made up of narratives told in social spaces.

Anja Dorn, a curator and guest professor for curatorial theory and dramaturgy at the University of Design Karlsruhe, began the first session with her workshop entitled ‘Curating the Audience’. She offered the notion that the increasing numbers of performance programmes were largely due to consumer culture and attempts to engage with, and even be dictated by, a wider consumer audience. Due to this, performance art takes place in what is called social spaces. (This breakdown of boundaries between art and the public dates back to the 1960s where de-bordering art was taken into new accessible places). From this observation, Dorn was keen for us to discuss how far these social spaces enable aesthetic experience and what implications this powerful consumer culture has for curatorial decisions.  Continue reading