16 Apr 2013 All day CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT




Clare Foster (Faculty of Classics)
Simon Ryle (English, University of Split)
Michael Hrebeniak (Faculty of English / Wolfson College)

Conference Summary

This conference takes place in the context of an accelerated interest in the idea of performance across many Cambridge faculties, which share a common understanding that cultural practices such as music, theatre, literature, film, painting and sculpture simultaneously exist as an object (fixed; a record) and an experience (time-bound; embodied). ‘Performance’ can be seen as the space of negotiation between these states. The assigning of fixed or stable 'meanings' to works of art has been widely challenged over the last century by an increased privileging of the receiving context as a key constituent of meaning. But this move towards indeterminism has traditionally been discussed in terms of unitary readers and viewers, and individual acts of reception.

Performance as a paradigm repositions the intelligibility of works of art as a function of their mixed and multiple audiences: simultaneously implied and actual; individual and collective; past and present – audiences which precede, as well as follow, acts of creation. Performance as an angle of approach asks who an artwork is for, assuming a multiple and complex answer. It views all artworks as implicitly public forms of messaging, or rather, suggests a view of the work as time-specific gesture rather than object, however individually created or consumed. As Simon English said of his land art project ‘England’ on BBC Radio 4, ‘The artwork is us discussing it now.’

We hope to discuss such issues from the perspective not only of the present, but also of the past, acknowledging that understandings of artistic production in other periods and cultures differ radically from those suggested by the separate categories of western modernity, and the distinctions and social values they enshrine.

The conference will consist of three discursive panels, two practical workshops, a special performance of Paper Cinema’s The Odyssey (originally developed at Battersea Arts Centre) with a Q & A/summing up discussion, and in place of the usual conference fare, performance art duo Hunt and Darton’s Cafe (originally developed at ArtsAdmin).






The Junction








Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, the Judith E Wilson Fund, The Battersea Arts Centre, Paper Cinema and The Junction.



Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.





Upcoming Events


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk