Tate Modern Talk

BMW Tate Live: On Liveness: Pre/During/Post

Hayley Newman, ‘Volcano Lady’ 2007
Hayley Newman, Volcano Lady 2007. Tate. © Hayley Newman, courtesy Matt’s Gallery, London

What is liveness and how can we understand it?

How can performance challenge how we think about time and space?

What do we understand by performativity in contemporary society?

This first event in the new Talks series aims to address several key questions about the nature of performance and the notion of liveness, arising from the ongoing BMW Tate Live Performance Room and Performance Events programme at Tate.

Refreshing the debate on liveness is vital today - in an age of mass media sensory overload, how can we make sense of live events? Liveness is associated to concepts of immersion and being engrossed in activity. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. This somewhat unpredictable, performative nature of the live is perhaps key to its excitement and power. How do we remember and contextualise the present for those who are not there to experience it themselves? In other words - How do we keep the live event alive?

This inspirational panel brings together author of Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture Philip Auslander, experimental director and performer Fiona Templeton and BMW Tate Live artist Cally Spooner to explore experiences of time, memory and concentration in relation to liveness. The evening includes a provocation filmed specially for the event from journalist and broadcaster Jon Snow. Chaired by contemporary art curator and critic Chantal Pontbriand.

Contemporary performance practice in a mediatised age often consciously blurs the boundaries of temporality, challenging audience expectations of what and when a live moment is, what is documented and when documentation takes place. Therefore, how can the richness of a live event endure through documentation and the ephemera of performance? How can archives create a site for remembering and evidencing the live? What is the role of the artist in creating the legacy of their own performance?

Offering a critical and engaging look at the themes explored by the artists taking part in BMW Tate Live 2014, talks invites the public to join in these discussions and to consider the social and cultural context of performance today.

Speakers' biographies

Cally Spooner

London-based artist Cally Spooner uses theory, current affairs and pop cultural figures as alibis to help her write, and casts of arguing characters to help her perform, producing plotless novellas, looping monologues and musical arrangements that stage the behaviour of speech. Spanning writing, film, live performance and broadcasting, Spooner’s work has been presented internationally including at Performa 13, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; KW Institute, Berlin; Serpentine Gallery, London. Spooner is recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards for Artists 2013.

Spooner presented the first BMW Tate Live 2014 commission, entitled And You Were Wonderful, On Stage. The second part of the commission, captured live on Thursday 27 February 2014 at Tate Modern, can be seen again here.

Philip Auslander

Philip Auslander is a Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Culture of the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA. He writes frequently on performance, popular music, art, and media culture and is the author of five books, including Presence and Resistance: Postmodernism and Cultural Politics in Contemporary American Performance (University of Michigan, 1992), From Acting to Performance: Essays in Modernism and Postmodernism (Routledge, 1997) and Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (Routledge; second edition 2008). He is also a working film and television actor. In addition to his scholarly work on performance, Prof. Auslander writes art criticism for ArtForum and other publications.

Fiona Templeton

Fiona Templeton works in performance, installation and poetry, and is director of the New York performance group The Relationship. She was a founding member of the Theatre of Mistakes in London in the 70s and created the seminal You-The City (an intimate citywide play for an audience of one) in the 80s. Recent works include The Medead at Roulette Brooklyn (a 6-part voice epic), Bodies of Memory at Tate Britain, and Aguas Dulces Aguas Saladas in the San Juan Estuary. The Medead is being published this spring by Roof, who also published her You The City and Cells of Release. She runs the MA in Contemporary Performance Making at Brunel University. 

Chantal Pontbriand

Chantal Pontbriand is a contemporary art curator and critic. Her work is based on exploration of questions of globalization and artistic heterogeneity. Pontbriand founded PARACHUTE contemporary art magazine in 1975, co-founded FIND (Festival International de Nouvelle Danse) in Montreal, was Head of Exhibition Research and Development, Tate Modern in 2010, founded PONTBRIAND W.O.R.K.S. [We_Others and Myself_Research_ Knowledge_Systems], is Associate Professor of Curatorial Studies at Sorbonne-Paris IV and received the Governor General of Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Visual and Media Arts, 2013. Recent publications include PARACHUTE: The Anthology. Volume II, Performance & Performativity (JRP /Ringier, 2013) and The Contemporary, The Common: Art in a Globalizing World, Sternberg Press, 2013. Her exhibition Per/Form: How To Do Things With[Out] Words is at CA2M Madrid until 20th September 2014.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

10 April 2014 at 18.30–20.30