Conservation in an era of participation

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Despite performance art’s originary stance against art commodification and institutionalisation, performance artworks are slowly being historicised and preserved for future generations. This art genre can be defined as consisting of unrepeatable events, specific in time and space, which may persist in some form in the memories of those who experienced them or in their documentation. The paradoxical relationship between performance art and its perpetuation in time has led to the development of many frameworks for its preservation. Artworks consisting of participatory practices present challenges that go beyond the work’s preservation, as traditional documentation methods do not usually encompass their social dimension. Equally relevant is the discussion about what changes this participatory trend will bring to the role of the conservator and to conservation practice in general. With this in mind, it is important to understand the future of conservation in an era of participation, in particular, in light of the burgeoning institutionalisation of performance-based artworks. This paper aims to discuss these issues while proposing the concept of body-archive of the conservator as an operative concept to re-evaluate the way documentation is currently executed. To illustrate this notion, the work Identificacíon (1975) by the Portuguese artist Manoel Barbosa and the participatory practices involved in its documentation process will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Institute of Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • body-archive
  • conservation
  • documentation
  • participation
  • performance-based art
  • process


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