Performance Conservation: A Condition Report, or a Para-Ethnography in Three Acts

Hölling, Hanna Barbara; Pelta Feldman, Jules; Magnin, Emilie (2024). Performance Conservation: A Condition Report, or a Para-Ethnography in Three Acts In: Gebhardt Fink, Sabine; Mirčev, Andrej (eds.) Revolving Documents: Narrations of Beginnings, Recent Methods and Cross-Mappings of Performance Art (pp. 155-172). Zürich: Diaphanes

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In this experimental chapter, three members of the research team Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, 2020-24) set out to perform a condition report that considers performance and performance-based art (later abbreviated to performance). A condition report is a central document in conservation practice that details the condition of an artifact at a given time, supplemented by photographs and symbolic mappings, so that any changes in its material state are documented. But the condition report meant here concerns the very concept of performance and performance conservation. We ask: What would it mean to understand performance through the lens of conservation? And how, in its manifold (after)lives, does performance resist classifications along with the standard curatorial and conservation procedures? Merging critical sensibilities with different tactics and methods in an experimental conservation-conversation that does not adhere to the conventions of academic discourse, we dissect, from our individual perspectives, and map into this chapter, both performance and performance conservation as inherently mutable concepts. Responding to a set of questions that formally guide our writing process, we argue for the necessity of close looking, and sensing, when faced with questions about the performance’s continuing life. Importantly, midway through the project, we are less concerned with delivering ready answers, but rather, in pursuing a certain form of para-ethnography, in which collaborations are forged between distinct actors and expertise. We are keen, moreover, on expanding discussions we have held amongst ourselves and with the project’s guests since its beginning. This is, by default, also an extension of an invitation to the reader to think with us and ultimately enter our conversation.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture > Contemporary Art and Media


Hölling, Hanna Barbara0000-0002-3063-4405;
Pelta Feldman, Jules0000-0001-8308-5174;
Magnin, Emilie0000-0001-7160-1725;
Gebhardt Fink, Sabine and
Mirčev, Andrej


A General Works > AC Collections. Series. Collected works
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general






[7] Swiss National Science Foundation


[236] Performance: The Ethics and the Politics of Conservation and Care Official URL




Hanna Barbara Hölling

Date Deposited:

12 Apr 2024 11:54

Last Modified:

12 Apr 2024 11:54

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Performance, performance conservation, ethnography, archive, preservation, continuity




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