Collecting the Performative – a research network

LIMA is researching new methods for the documentation, transmission and preservation of media art, digital art and performances. Currently we are participating in Collecting the Performative; a research network 'Examining Emerging Practice for Collecting and Conserving Performance Based Art'.

The research network will examine emerging models for the conservation and documentation of artists’ performance and will draw upon the practices of dance, theatre and activism in order to identify parallels in the concept of a work and related notions of authorship, authenticity, autonomy, documentation, memory, continuity and liveness. By bringing together Dutch and British academic scholars and museum professionals, this two-year project aims to provide greater insight into the conceptual and practical challenges related to collecting and conserving artists’ performance. 

The first network meeting was held on the 25 September 2012 and considered how legacy is created within a dance tradition. The second network meeting was held on the 8 March 2013 at the Van Abbemuseum, in Eindhoven and considered a strand of performance-based work which either references activism or can be considered as social or political activism. The third network meeting was recently been held on 26 November 2013 at Tate Modern and reflected on performance and theatre.

The key network themes are:

  • Continuity and change in relation to artists’ performances, collecting and conservation practice.
  • Dance, theatre and activism practice in relation to the documentation and conservation of performance or performative art.
  • Ideas of autonomy and authenticity and the performing arts of dance and theatre in order to conceptualise the relationship between the artist, the artwork, the performer and the museum.
  • Changing understandings of performativity in artworks in relation to display or audience interpretation both ‘live’ within the gallery and mediated through video or the internet.
  • Alternative scientific models from the biological, environmental or social sciences and alternative conceptual frameworks for the conservation of artists’ performances within the museum.


Members of LIMA have previously been involved in the research project Inside Movement Knowledge as part of the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk). The IMK was a two-year interdisciplinary research project into new methods for documentation, transmission and conservation of contemporary choreographic and dance knowledge. The primary partners were ICK Amsterdam, Emio Greco I PC, NIMk, the Faculty for Media and Culture of the University of Utrecht and the Dance training program and research group of the Lecturship in art practice and artistic development at the Amsterdam Hogeschool voor de Kunsten. 

The NIMK research team (Annet Dekker, Gaby Wijers (now director of LIMA) and Vivian van Saaze) focused, in collaboration with EG | PC dance company and researchers attached to the LKAO, primarily on the documentation of hitherto intangible artistic processes. The 75 pageDocumentation Model for EG | PC’s Extra Dry is available. View the Table of Contents here. In the lectures of How To Perform An Artwork (2010), which was part of the international symposium Contemporary art who cares?, a lively discussion made it clear that documentation and preservation issues addressed institutional questions.