1 The Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University
Being a process performance art has been seen as subversive and thus defying traditional object-based notions of the artwork, as conceptualized within the context of the art institutions (Peggy Phelan). The differences between a performance and its documentation that such assumptions rely on do exist – but viewing presentation and representation as purely oppositional is not adequate for a museum practice that wishes to acknowledge performance as an important contemporary art genre. Questions relating to acquisition, the archive, conservation, and representation become equally important. The present paper draws on examples from my ongoing PhD-project, which is connected to Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Denmark, where I curate a sub-programme at ACTS 2014 – a festival for performative arts. The aim is to investigate, how sound performance can be presented and represented - in real time, as well as in and through the archive. I focus on and discuss three distinct, but interrelated, topics in relation to sound and to the experience of sound performance, namely perception of space, perception of liveness (or presence), and the changing relations between subjects and objects. In itself – and as an artistic material – sound is always already process. It involves the listener in a situation that is both filled with elusive presence and one that evokes rooted memory. At the same time sound is bodily, social and historical. It propagates between individuals and objects, it creates spaces and it echoes much wider contexts than its own elapsing. From a sound-anthropological perspective with central notions such as acoustemology (Steven Feld), auditory imagination (Don Ihde) and embodied sonic experience (Holger Shulze), it is my central theoretical preconception that presentation is always preconditioned by cultural representations (Jonathan Sterne). As such, an anthropology of sound is able to question existing notions of performance as a subversive, anti-institutional and purely presentational genre, at the same time as it has the ability to reconsider elements of representation, which are both crucial issues when curating from within a museum institution.