Australian Research Council grant awarded to consortium researching ways for museums to preserve performance art

Exploring the challenges around presenting and preserving choreographic performance works in visual arts institutions, Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum is a major research partnership between the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Tate UK, and UNSW Sydney, bringing together five public institutions from Australia and internationally.

Addressing some of the difficulties that ephemeral, performance-based works can pose to museums and collecting institutions, most of which have primarily been concerned with collecting objects, the research will focus on developing protocols, policies and methodologies for both artists and museums to exhibit, collect and conserve choreographic performance art. Encompassing three years of research, from May 2021 until 2024, the project has arisen in response to the increasing prevalence of performance in contemporary art and the imperative for collecting institutions to be able to capture and preserve this important aspect of art history.

Precarious Movements was recently awarded one of 60 of the highly competitive Australian Research Council’s Linkage Grants, valued at nearly $400,000. The Australian Research Council (ARC) is the national body for funding scholarly research of major significance and their Linkage Grants are designed to facilitate partnerships between academic researchers and business, community or industry bodies, including organisations in the creative and cultural industries.

The ARC grant will also facilitate the commissioning of multiple new performance works by leading artists to be premiered at AGNSW, MUMA, and NGV and further strengthen the growth of performance-based practices internationally by providing direct support to artists. The project will culminate in the production of a major scholarly publication capturing the research, findings, case studies and scholarship on choreographic performance in the visual arts.

Connecting with and consulting an international network of artists, curators, conservators, archivists, museum educators and scholars, Precarious Movements is led by Dr Erin Brannigan, Senior Lecturer in theatre and performance and Dr Rochelle Haley, Lecturer, UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture; Hannah Mathews, Senior Curator, Monash University Museum of Art; artist Shelley Lasica; Carolyn Murphy, Head of Conservation, and Lisa Catt, Curator, International Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Louise Lawson, Conservation Manager, Time Based Media Conservation, Tate; and Pip Wallis, Curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria.

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