DFG research project "Records and Representations: Media and constitutive systems in archiving performance-based arts" 1 August 2012 - 30 October 2014. Extended to 30 March 2016 


Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre, Leipzig, Dept. of Dramaturgy and University of the Arts Berlin, Inter-University Centre for Dance, Berlin


The research project “Records and Representations” was initiated to analyse aspects of the medial and ontological constitution of the archival traces of performance. Against the background of growing interest both in the cultural function of the archive and the historiography of performance art the project explores the correlations between exhibition practice, performative formats and the production of specific artefacts.

Objects of investigation include archival strategies in a range of institutionalised contexts – in museums, performance venues, by artists and galleries – and, in parallel, relevant exhibition projects. The project seeks to shed light on pragmatic aspects as well as the possibilities for use and medial transformations that arise when artefacts are produced and evaluated. Fluctuating between materiality and evidence function, artefacts must be considered in the light of the type of media used and, secondly, the combined effect of archival craft, renewed interpretation and digital processing on artistic testimonies.

The goal of the project is to formulate a contemporary understanding of movement and movability as a medium of preservation and a medium to be preserved, reflecting the complex interplay of the artefacts’ object status and referential quality, the representation of past events and the presence of fluid access. (Updated: February 2015)


Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Barbara Büscher, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre, Leipzig, Barbara.buescher@hmt-leipzig.de, and Dr. Franz Anton Cramer, University of the Arts, Berlin, fa.cramer@hzt-berlin.de

Research assistant at the Univ. of Music and Theatre: Lucie Ortmann

Mercator Fellows: Dr. Eric Morrill (San Francisco), Prof. Dr. Barbara Clausen (Montréal)

Guest Researcher / DAAD: Nerea Ayerbe (Bilbao)




“Media and constitutive systems: Archiving performance-based art" 


This research project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), focuses on cultural performance practices and their historiography. In recent years, there has been growing interest in questions of how transitory and site specific art forms react to archiving and how to overcome the conflict between the unique moment of performance and remembering or immortalizing it. A range of formats, from exhibitions, re-enactments and retrospectives to historically informed artistic projects, use many different strategies to translate the content of past performance into contemporary contexts and renderings.

The objective of the project is to analyse these undertakings and examine their effectiveness as well as their individual conceptions and methods. These can be based on the status of archival objects, claims to documentary completeness, faithfulness to the original or curatorial re-interpretations of historical positions. 

Current projects in this field are observed and analysed in a number of case studies. In addition, the project seeks to systematically take stock of developments, in terms of both artistic and academic discussions of the issue since c. 1990.
The results will be published and presented for discussion in workshops, internet publications and a database.

Duration: 1 August 2012 – 30 October 2014  

Project directors: Prof. Dr. Barbara Büscher, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy College of Music and Theatre, Leipzig, Dept. of Dramaturgy, and Dr. Franz Anton Cramer, University of the Arts, Berlin / Inter-University Centre for DancePhD researcher: Dipl.-Soz. Jasmin İhraç, BA Zeitgenössischer Tanz, Kontext und Choreografie


more information: here and here