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Barbara Clausen


Prof. Dr. Barbara Clausen is an independent curator and Associate Professor for contemporary art and performance in the art history department at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM). Since 2000 she has lectured and written extensively on the historiography and institutionalization of performance-based art practices and the parallel discourses surrounding the politics of the body and the archive, articulated through the site specificity of the exhibition. In 2010 Clausen received her PhD from the University of Vienna, Austria and has over the last ten years curated and collaborated on numerous exhibitions and performance series in Europe as well as North America, including After the Act The (Re)Presentation of Performance Art (2005) and Wieder und Wider / Again and Against: Appropriation in Art and Dance (2006) as well as the exhibition and performance series Push and Pull I and II (2010-2011) she curated at Mumok, and the Tanzquartier in Vienna and at TATE Modern in London in collaboration with Achim Hochdörfer and Catherine Wood. In 2016 she curated the first Canadian exhibition of Joan Jonas’ work, entitled From Away and the event series Affinities at DHC / Art and Phi Centre in Montreal.
Since 2014 Clausen is the director of FRQSC funded research project An Annotated Bibliography in Realtime: Performance Art in Quebec and Canada (2014-2019) as well as her current research project Keeping it Live (2018-2022), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada). She is the Curatorial Research Director of the Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, which is part of The Artists Archive Initiative at New York University (2017-2020) in collaboration Glenn Wharton (Museum Studies) and Denna Engel (Computer Science). She is a co-applicant member of Hexagram UQAM Network in Montreal, and, next to her research association with the ZeM in 2018/2019, a Visiting Research Fellow at TATE Britain and a Visiting Scholar at the programme for Museum Studies at NYU.

Keeping it Live – On Performance, Exhibitions and Archives
Barbara Clausen’s research is dedicated to thinking about performance’s representational politics as a hybrid art form in the tension field of the live and the mediated. For her project Keeping it Live she will study the evolvement and impact of performance based art practices in the visual arts and popular culture as an increasingly fluid medial entity that oscillates between affect driven agency and conceptual site-specificity. One of the main goals of her project is to analyse performance’s close relationship to its various institutional sites of interaction and knowledge platforms at the intersection of the analogue, the digital and the post-digital.

Clausen investigates how performance since the millennium has evolved through a series of case studies and perspectives that link interdisciplinary artistic practices (Joan Jonas, Anne Imhof, Walid Raad, Tania Bruguera, Sarah Pierce, etc.) to curatorial programs (If I Cant Dance, Amsterdam; TATE Modern, London; CORPUS network) as well as related archive based projects (Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artists Archive Initiative, NYU; NewRhizomeMuseum; resource transmedial culture Berlin platform). Keeping it Live examines how the ecologies and networks of artistic interests, curatorial choices, and institutional and ideological politics at play are anchored in the reality and imaginary of the exhibition as a liminal site, fed by the desire for immediacy and authentic experience as much as driven by the instability of the archive and the projected accessibility of the infinite.
This interest in looking at the representational politics of performance’s arts strong ties to the site of the museum and new formats of digital mediation, archiving and curating, takes its outset in the shifting spatio-temporal layers activated through the performativity of the bodies, spaces and knowledge they activate, occupy, and constitute. This implies looking at how performance plays out its double ontological status, (Bishop 2017, Chaumier 2011, Davallon, 2002) between the immediacy of its presentness and its’ potential as an imaginary foil of projection.
Three questions are at the outset of this project dedicated to the relationship of experience and knowledge in the arts: firstly, how performance, as one of the most dominantly promoted art forms today, finds its various modes of existence within and beyond the framework of the institutional spaces (real and virtual) it occupies? Secondly, how the evolvement of performance, as a hybrid and discourse driven practice and method of working, has over the last decade become a generator and filter of today’s image politics, and, thirdly, how performance contributes as much as shapes concepts of authenticity and immediacy in the cultural sphere.
One of the current case studies Clausen will work on at the ZeM is the development and analysis of The Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, an open source data-base and digital information resource for curating, conserving, and researching the pioneering work of the multi-media and performance artist Joan Jonas. This collaborative and trans-disciplinary Digital Humanities project is dedicated to the translation of the archival and curatorial as well as conceptual, aesthetic and material parameters of Jonas’ early key works Organic Honey (1971/73) and Mirage (1976/2004/2018) into a sustainable and open access digital platform. This research looks at the « myse-en-abyme » like relationship of performance based works to various media (from the body to the live feed) and ongoing evolvement through its various forms of exhibiting and transmission; asking how the visualisation and chronologically layering of the performative can be kept alive through its conservation.

Publications (selection)
Clausen, B. (2017) “Performing the Archive and Exhibiting the Ephemeral”, in A History of Performance Documentation, Giannachi, Gabriella and Jonah Westerman (ed.), Londen / New York : Routledge.


— (2015) “Seeing the World Through a Double Lens”, in The Shadow A Shadow: The Work of Joan Jonas, Joan Simon and Joan Jonas (eds.), Hatje Cantz, Gregory Miller, Hangar Bicocca, Cologne, Milan, New York.


— (2014) “parallel times - whether one’s own or of that of others”, in TIMING, Beatrice von Bismarck, Rike Frank, Jörn Schafaff et Thomas Weski (ed.) Berlin, New York, SternbergPress, 171–186.


— (ed.) (2006) “After the Act”, in After the Act. The (Re)Presentation of Performance Art, Theory Series 03, Vienna. Nuremberg : mumok and Verlag Moderner Kunst.