Performance and the new Tate Modern

‘How can one think of art institutions in an age that is defined by planetary civil war, growing inequality, and proprietary digital technology? The boundaries of the institution have become fuzzy. They extend from pumping the audience for tweets, to a future of ‘neurocurating’ in which paintings will surveil their audience via facial recognition and eye tracking to check whether paintings are popular enough or whether anyone is behaving suspiciously.’

Hito Steyerl, A Tank on a Pedestal: Museums in an Age of Planetary Civil War

In its interest in performance, the newly expanded Tate is claiming an institutional engagement with its archiving, documentation, collation and legitimation within narratives of art history. It probes important distinctions: between presentation and representation, enactment and interpretation. The Tate has justified its centrality at the heart of two systems, seemingly incompatible with each other: one is the necessary business-minded, profit-driven, economically fluctuating world of private sponsorship and the art market itself; and the other, an alignment with public accountability  – the institution as civic space. So is the Tate turning to performance not just to satisfy the necessary expansion of its art histories, and of contemporary narratives of art, but also to carve the space for public engagement and art as event? Is it trying to mediate between those two worlds by seeking spaces of encounter? So I begin with Hito Steyerl as a way of asking an old question: what do we demand of a contemporary art institution, when that institution positions itself as public without acknowledging with the wider infrastructures that challenge that identity?

You can read the full piece for Exeunt Magazine here.

Critical thinking around Live Art for Live Art Almanac Vol 4 Launch


The Live Art Almanac Volume 4 is? a collection of ‘found’ writings about and around Live Art that were originally published, shared, sent, spread and read between January 2012 and December 2014. Selected through recommendations and an open call for submissions,Volume 4 reflects the dynamic, international contexts that Live Art and radical performance- based practices occupy.

Volume 4 will be launched at The White Building in an event featuring two open discussions on the state of writing from Live Art, chaired by Megan Vaughan (LADA Programmes Manager and cultural blogger). The editors of the Almanac Lois Keidan (LADA co-director), Aaron Wright (former LADA Programmes Manager and new Artistic Director of Fierce Festival) and Harriet Curtis (Kings College London) will talk about the editorial processes and content of Volume 4.

This will be followed by a debate on new developments in critical thinking around Live Art with three of the most significant writers working in the UK today, Diana Damian, Maddy Costa and Mary Paterson.

Public Collection Tate Modern: In Conversation with Manuel Pelmus

On July 7, Manuel Pelmu? comes to Romanian Cultural Centre to talk about his work, collaborations and the most recent project: Public Collection Tate Modern, which can still be seen until July 3rd. I will be hosting the conversation.

Public Collection Tate Modern 2016 is a site-specific work by Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus. The work is enacted by a group of five performers who use their bodies to transform artworks originally made in other media. These include well-known and not so well-known works from the Tate collection, alongside works from other public collections. Though the work is playful, at the same time it critically proposes an alternative system of value in which the live act prompts us to consider how we might embody a shared heritage.
Manuel Pelmus is a Bucharest and Oslo based artist. He has a background in choreography, and over the years he developed works for the theater context, while recently being increasingly more active in the visual arts/museum context. Manuel Pelmus represented Romania (together with Alexandra Pirici) at the -55th- Venice Biennale with the acclaimed project “An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale”. His works have been presented at the Van Abbe Museum – Eindhoven, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Moma Warsaw, Para/Site – Hong Kong, Centre Georges Pompidou , Museum M – Leuven, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, The Kiev Biennale, Bass Museum of Art Miami, The Off-Biennale – Budapest, Judson Church New York, De Singel Antwerp, Tate Liverpool, among others. Manuel Pelmus has been awarded the Berlin Art Prize for Performing Arts 2012 and the Excellence Award of the National Dance Center in Bucharest.

For more information visit:

Theatre Criticism in the Public Sphere: Masterclass at FITEI, Porto


Decline, demise, deliberation: the question of criticism in the public sphere

presented as part of Creating Dialogues: Performing Arts Criticism and the Public Sphere

In 1989, in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Jurgen Habermas argues that the formation of the bourgeois public sphere in the 18th century developed through democratic deliberation and the exercising and constitution of public opinion. Habermas is influential in tracing a relationship between criticism, deliberation and political practice that, despite its flaws, has been instrumental in thinking about criticism’s role and position in the public sphere. Habermas situates criticism and gives intellectual and political weight to its capacity to operate collectively.


In 2011, art theorist Hito Steyerl argues, in Free-Fall: A Thought Experiment on Vertical Perspective, that we find ourselves in constant free-fall, a perspective that ‘throws jaw-dropping social inequalities in sharp focus’, but also ‘a shifting formation’, a productive instability. This is a different moment for criticism; one in which we declare its fall, its deterritorialisation, but also where we profess our passion for its sustained engagement and ongoing re-formation. Yet if the ground is no longer there, then where is criticism situated? And where and what are its spaces of debate?


In this masterclass, we will use these starting points to think through the question of criticism in the public sphere. How can criticism consider and actively engage with the spaces it occupies and creates in the public sphere under these circumstances? How can we revisit notions of community and deliberation under these circumstances, where spaces of critical dialogue are in constant conflict with the mechanisms of neoliberalism? And what of public opinion- is it something to be constructed, or something to be rescued?


Aula Magistral com Diana Damian-Martin