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Diffracting Histories of Performance

Marçal, H; (2019) Diffracting Histories of Performance. Performance Research , 24 (7) pp. 39-46. 10.1080/13528165.2019.1717863. Green open access

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This article aims to explore the historicization and archiving of performance artworks created during the Portuguese dictatorship (1926–74), through diffraction - a conceptual framework grounded in new materialisms. Drawing on feminist frameworks, it proposes that the reconstruction of performance art’s historical milieu works on stages of appearance and disappearance in relation to ideas of absence and the performative archive. This is particularly relevant in the case of performance artworks created in Portugal in the 1960s and 1970s. Framed by their disappearance in periods leading to the 1990s, this art genre has been characterized as dormant, lacking inscription, or absent from art history. This paper investigates forms of historicization that question the official art historical narratives and that come to the fore through the gaps of the social fabric where these narratives emerge. In questioning how we can recover the performative potential of those works, the article analyses two artworks – Negative Music (1965), by E. M. de Melo e Castro, and Identificacíon (1975), by Manoel Barbosa. The gaps that emerge through the works’ multiple existences after the event are made apparent, reframing the process of their disappearance as a radical gesture of potentiality. Through the discussion of the re-enactment process of Identificacíon, led by the artist and choreographer Vânia Rovisco in the context of her project REACTING TO TIME: The Portuguese in Performance, this paper shows how the existent gaps reclaiming the transformative potential of those absences through participation. The article then proposes that the transformative potential of the gaps in that history comes to fore by diffracting centres of authority to Others. Otherness, in this sense, amplifies the dislocation of authority from the artist and radiates towards a multiplicity of perspectives and bodies, creating an abundancy of material and ethical intra-actions at each encounter.

Type: Article
Title: Diffracting Histories of Performance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2019.1717863
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2019.1717863
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091603
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