Focusing on Tate’s collection, ‘Perspectives’ comprises several short essays, each about a single artwork that is either a live performance or somehow performance-related. These writings explore how such works sit within the institution – as part of its collection – and what challenges they have posed to the museum’s traditional ways of doing things. In the case of works that are not live (and might not at first appear to belong in a discussion of performance), such inquiry is especially valuable. These objects demonstrate the extent to which durational experience, the visibility of artistic process or an emphasis on viewer participation – hallmarks of performance art – characterise a great many works of contemporary art.
In exploring these works we can see both how performance appears in unexpected places and how the museum has had to accommodate the concept of the performative even when dealing with collection objects made with traditional media.