The aim of documentation: Micro-decisions in the documentation of performance-based artworks

Rita Macedo, Hélia Marçal

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The preservation of performance-based artworks, such as installations and performances, is often accompanied by frequent discussions regarding their documentation. How can performance-based artworks, which are unrepeatable
and contextual, be documented after the event? This paper aims to reflect upon the purpose of the documentation of performance-based artworks and about how the micro-decisions conservators make during the documentation process can influence and are influenced by their intentions. In this context, the concepts and practices of documentation are critically examined. With this goal in mind, the artwork Identificación (1975) by the Portuguese artist Manoel Barbosa (b. 1953) and the documentation produced in two different contexts by two different people (a choreographer and a
conservator) are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints, Copenhagen, 4–8 September 2017
EditorsJanet Bridgland
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherICOM-CC: International Council of Museums
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • documentation
  • decision making
  • performance-based art
  • conservation problem
  • transmission
  • body-archive


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