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Experience it! Editorial

A Prior #21 / Els Roelandt

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In the publication made for Performa 07 (New York's biennial performance festival) I read the account of a conversation between RoseLee Goldberg, Marina Abramovic, Vanessa Beecroft and Babette Mangolte. Titled 'You didn't have to be There', their discussion stressed the point that, just as with the Battle of Waterloo or the French Revolution, one need not witness particular events in order to understand them entirely. I can go along with that to a certain extent... . This stance, contending that the documentation of a performance can more or less replace the performance itself, places a considerable amount of responsibility on the viewer of the artwork. Instantly casting the role of the performer—or, more generally, the artist—to the wind, it opens his work to countless interpretations, desired or not, and especially allows him to convey these with a more lasting resolve than that found even, say, in the performance itself. It is a stance which confronts artists with many challenges.…