Museum practices of re-performance and reenactment in contemporary art conservation

Activity: Talk or presentation / Performance / SpeechesTalk or presentation - at conferenceAcademic


The Technical Art History Colloquium is organised by Sven Dupré (Utrecht University and University of Amsterdam, PI ERC ARTECHNE), Arjan de Koomen (University of Amsterdam, Coordinator MA Technical Art History), and Abbie Vandivere (University of Amsterdam, Coordinator MA Technical Art History & Paintings Conservator, Mauritshuis, The Hague). Monthly meetings take place on Thursdays, usually in Utrecht and Amsterdam. In the tenth edition of the Technical Art History Colloquium, Jenny Boulboullé (Utrecht University) and Vivian van Saaze (Maastricht University) will give presentations about reconstruction/re- performance as research method. Reconstructions and re-performances are much-used methods in the conservation of art objects and performance-based artworks. They can contribute to developing adequate procedures to clean and conserve artefacts that have been produced with materials and technologies from past periods, but they can also be understood as a form of research that provides important information on the making processes of objects and the work-defining properties of performances. This colloquium aims to explore the value of reconstruction and re-performance as research methods by analyzing concrete examples from early modern art and contemporary art. The format of the colloquium is open, but there will always be substantial time for audience discussion.Vivian van SaazeThis presentation addresses particular challenges arising from the emerging practice of acquisitioning and re-staging performance-based artworks in a museum context. Through the discussion of several case-studies, I will demonstrate how re-performance or reenactment is not only an act of conservation, but also a form of research. Furthermore, I will argue that reenactment and the study of reenactment processes foster not only a better understanding of the work of art, but can also illuminate behind- the-scenes museum activities. Indeed, the ways in which art works cannot be understood separately from the institutional practices in which artworks circulate and through which they come into being. Especially in the case of contemporary and dynamic art forms such as installation art and performance, no clear lines can be drawn between artworks and their institutional environments, as they continuously co-shape and co-constitute each other. What then is the value of re-performance and reenactment for research purposes and how can we situate these practices in light of existing technical art history?
Period23 Mar 2017
Held atUtrecht University, Netherlands


  • reconstruction
  • performance
  • conservation
  • re-performance