A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things launches Staging Histories, a new research and commissioning platform for performance art.
Through rare archives and new commissions, Staging Histories traces seminal moments in performance, mapping shared histories and contemporary global concerns. This exhibition is a prologue to, rather than the outcome of, major research. It presents a constellation of performative works, photographs, video documentation and archival materials that highlights key performances from the last three decades. The thematic connections cross the Arab
world but relate to global politics, economics and cultural shifts. The selected artworks can therefore be understood as a preface, consequence or echo of major developments during this period.
The notion of performance as a form of historic record is explored directly by Mohammed Kazem and Emily Jacir, while the works by Xiao Lu, Wael Shawky, Sharif Waked and The Yes Men and Steve Lambert provoke and complicate how the past and present are understood. Sharon Hayes, Mona Hatoum, Marwa Arsanios and Hassan Sharif look at the intimate and complex relationships between the body, society and collective memory. Coco Fusco and Lin Yilin use their bodies to address methods of social conditioning. An online catalogue will be produced in collaboration with Ibraaz Platform 009, which addresses the genealogies of performance art in North Africa and the Middle East.
A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things is cocommissioned by Shubbak, London’s festival of contemporary Arab Art (11-26 July 2015). The larger project Staging Histories was successfully funded through Art Basel’s Crowd funding Initiative.
Staging Histories has also produced a group exhibition at the Hayward Gallery’s Project Space that runs parallel to the exhibition at Delfina Foundation. Entitled Echoes & Reverberations, this exhibition explores sound as a medium of performing history and the nature of listening as a performative act through the work of seven artists, including four new commissions. Echoes & Reverberations is a collaboration between Delfina Foundation, Hayward Gallery, Maraya Art Centre (Sharjah), and Shubbak.