28 September 2018

The Financial Times : Can you buy performance art? by Melanie Gerlis

Candida Powell-Williams, Lessness, still Quorum, 2018

Can you buy performance art?

A look into the financing of works that literally don’t stand still by Melanie Gerlis
Andrius Mulokas in Merike Esta’s Dawn of the Swarm, Bosse & Baum, 2018

“An artist whose practice is about gesture and movement is forced to make drawings or paintings, or to go to festivals as entertainment. It devalues what they are doing,” says Liv Vaisberg, who this month launched A Performance Affair, a three-day platform in Belgium for 23 projects through galleries including Dutch specialist Ellen de Bruijne and London’s Bosse & Baum. But without an income from their props and paraphernalia, and very little in terms of public subsidy, how can performers make a living, let alone produce their art? For her event, Vasiberg encouraged galleries to think about other ways in which performance art could be more accessible and commercially appealing. Their thoughts are set out in the catalogue and range from including a video of the artist giving instructions for subsequent performances (Tim Etchells for Vitrine gallery) to another artist suggesting that the price of her work could be a direct multiple of the number of seconds she holds a pose (Laurence Vauthier for the website Un-spaced).