Documenting Live – online

We are delighted to offer an online version of Documenting Live as part of LADA Collections. Initially published in 2008 as part of Restock Reflect Rethink on Race, Documenting Live was a unique publication and DVD resource reflecting the work of key UK based artists working in the 1990s and 2000s, and placing Live Art practices that are informed by questions of cultural identity within critical and historical frameworks.


Documenting Live

Documenting Live was developed in collaboration with curator David A Bailey and artist Rajni Shah in response to the challenges of documenting Live Art, and particularly the influential work of artists from culturally diverse backgrounds in the UK. Documenting Live set out to address these challenges through the creation of an archival and critical document that maps a history; marks a territory; and looks to the future.

Barby Asante, Ansuman Biswas, Malika Booker, Sonia Boyce, George Chakravarthi, Robin Deacon, Yara El-Sherbini, Harminder Singh Judge, Keith Khan, David Medalla, Harold Offeh, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa and Ali Zaidi collaborated on this mapping project through the creation of biographical postcards and video commentaries, the selection of illustrative documentation of their work, and participation in round table discussions prompted by David A Bailey’s essay Documenting Live: Performance-Based Art and the Racialised Body.

In their illuminating and provocative contributions the participating artists reflect on the people, movements and ideas of the 20th century moment that have influenced, and continue to influence, their own performative practices; consider the formal, conceptual and cultural issues informing their work in the 21st century; and offer invaluable insights into the different histories and experiences of black artists in the UK, and the evolving and shifting nature of Live Art itself.

The online version of Documenting Live contains David A Bailey’s mapping essay Performance-Based Art and the Racialised Body; the artist’s video commentaries and excerpts from key works, and documentation of the two round table discussions with two different generations of artists.

View works Read 'Performance-Based Art and the Racialised Body'
Documenting Live. Image The Artists
'Documenting Live' is a pioneering project. Live artists who come from non-European cultural avant-garde histories are constantly fighting the strategic amnesia and ethnocentrism of the dominant art world. If we are lucky, we become a one-liner in the history of art. But more likely we will be lumped together into a generalizing cultural movement that came as fast as it evaporated. It is clear we have to write our own history, draft our own map and document projects in our own terms. This epic documentation project generated by the Live Art Development Agency in collaboration with David A. Bailey and Rajni Shah functions as a very comprehensive map detailing the practice of UK-based experimental artists whose cultural roots span several continents and artistic languages. The beautifully designed package contains artist-made biographical postcards, a very sharp essay by curator Bailey and an incredible DVD with artists' commentaries and excerpts of their work. Ultimately, the compilation provides the reader/viewer an incredible insight into one of the most vibrant live art scenes in the world. I am envious. My Latino colleagues in the US are also envious. We truly wish live artists here had a similar project. Sadly, there is nothing of this nature in our part of the world.