Nicholas Serota

Live Culture at Tate Modern

Live Culture is Tate Modern's first foray into the realm of live art, and seeks to explore the current potential for collaboration between the museum (generally seen as a repository for documentation and artefacts used in performance work) and the moveable, non-site of live performance itself. In a series of live art events, a two-day symposium and an extensive video programme, visitors to Tate Modern will have the opportunity to see new and documented works and engage with the latest issues in performance art, as well as the specific questions raised by the role of the museum in presenting live art.

Given the increasing institutionalisation of alternative performance spaces and the demise of the public sphere, Live Culture asks how artists and museums should develop their future relationship. It also considers how performance has responded to the challenges of this evolving alliance while retaining its role as a generative force intent on questioning traditions of representation. This examination comes at a time when performance art has become increasingly cross-disciplinary, and is being used as a strategy in activism, identity politics, and other means of 'interrupting' rather than 'representing' society.

Tate Modern has worked in collaboration with Lois Keidan and Daniel Brine of the Live Art Development Agency and Adrian Heathfield (University of Warwick) on this inquisitive approach to performance in the museum setting. Manifold practices will be included to capture the breadth of contemporary performance: from events in the Turbine Hall by artists Oleg Kulik and Franko B, and works in the fourth floor galleries by Guillermo Gomez-Pena, La Ribot, and Forced Entertainment that will provide a concurrent and continuous flow of events over three days, to the presentation of Hayley Newman's fictitious performance documentation and a thematic video programme of British performance art.

The curators have also organised, in collaboration with Tate Modern, an international symposium that will consider such central topics as the move of performance into new media and locations, activism in live art, and the continued significance of body art and physical endurance in performance. In addition to the symposium there will be presentations by speakers such as art and performance historian RoseLee Goldberg, artist Marina Abramovic and curator Yu Yeon Kim.

Instead of providing an overview or presenting an historic perspective of performance art, Live Culture offers a framework to consider key shifts in live art over the last few decades. Visitors will be encouraged to consider the relationship between the work performed and discussed as part of Live Culture and the inclusion of performance documentation within the collection galleries, such as the works of Joseph Beuys, Rebecca Horn and Carolee Schneemann. Live Culture gives an audience the chance to experience new forms of artistic engagement, and also enables Tate Modern to consider its role not only as a site for preservation and interpretation, but as an active generator of performance work.

Sir Nicholas Serota 

Director, Tate


Part of Live Culture at Tate Modern