Authenticity and object relations in contemporary performance art
Evidence of Movement provides an excellent springboard for examining critical issues involved with the exhibition and interpretation of contemporary performance objects. rough its thematic displays and overlapping categories of objects, the exhibition presented visitors with culturally valuable souvenirs, relics and traces of the past, suggesting stories about past actions, artists’ lives and socio-historical contexts. In the absence of original live events, the exhibition highlighted the fact that performances as well as artists can achieve a sort of immortality through material traces that are both documentary and theatrical. Ultimately, the manipulated nature of many performance photographs and other surviving objects raises important questions about the place of authenticity in relationships between objects and their audiences, and in the socially-constructed, relational nature of viewer interpretation. In this chapter, I will explore how the display of objects in Evidence of Movement, as in other exhibitions about contemporary performance art, challenged viewers to reconstruct the ‘truth’ of artistic actions, while reinforcing the sheer impossibility of such a task. As a means of interpretive access to the past, performance objects in the end represent only fragments of
historical events, residues of artists’ lives and actions that resonate in authentic ways with dierent viewers over time.