Østfold University College / Norwegian Theater Academy
Infinite Record: Archive Memory and Performance
The Norwegian Theatre Academy has staged the works of many pioneering international guest artists in its 15 years of teaching BA theater students. Productions and workshops in various media are stored in what we now term our “archive”. Just as the role of recorded history is critically observed through post-modernism, in the field of performance studies the relation between live art and documentation is a precarious one, constantly being questioned. We are interested in this precariousness and have begun research for vocabulary and methods that stimulate it. We recognize the role of the archive in its many manifestations as fuel for creative processes, while appreciating the challenges it poses to the artist. The historical dominance of the archive as a reference is as much a burden as it is an inspiration. We confront its influence and limitation on the definition of what constitutes knowledge. In this project, 3 guest artists will hold one-month residencies at NTA to help us explore, shift and challenge the notion of the archive from different perspectives in new creative works. Artists’ residencies at NTA will each culminate in a new work in progress presented at the Academy, followed by three laboratory style seminars that take place internationally in collaboration with our institutional partners in the UK, USA and Germany.
The dramaturgy of the three-year project is inspired by the winner of the1999 International Essay Prize, Ivetta Gersasimchuk’s Dictionary of Winds. Our dramaturgy uses the impulse of the phenomenal dream-map made by the author of this poetic dictionary to see the world through the contrasting experience of wind lovers, or “anemophiles” and “chronists” who have opposing relationships towards archiving inside a universe of other powerful forces. We are inspired to consider other elemental forms in addition to wind as ways of interpreting the behavior of the archive and the archival impulse. Our research draws upon artistic practice and performance studies to interpret embodied, spatial and ephemeral phenomenon in various constellations of memory. Performative works that employ a range of disciplines are crucial to our studies.
Some of the questions that we ask inside this project are: what is memory, what is a body? What, in human experience, is worth remembering, documenting, cataloguing? Who decides? In the archive, who does the memory of a performance belong to, if not time itself? How many versions of the archive exist? What is a collection? What is forbidden to collect, what is sacred? What experience is unique to the “original”? Why not just let go? How can the tense relationship between memory and loss stimulate new ideas and culture, and not only hoarding?
Infinite Record will culminate in a final conference at MIT. We will also realize a group publication that represents the research process.