Call For Papers

Documentation and preservation of performing art – new challenges

 Autumn seminar of the Finnish Society of Theatre Resesarch (TeaTS)

On Monday 13.11.2017



The Finnish Society of Theatre Research carries responsibility over its ever-changing art forms and wants to insure, that their documentation and transmission are executed in a way that make them justice as events, making possible the availability of the knowledge pertaining to them in relevant form even in the future.

Documenting multimedial, spatio-temporal art forms and archiving data in memory organizations has always been challenging, but now performance arrangements and, on the other hand, their recording procedures, focus points and resources have undergone a transformation. Theatre, dance, performance art, and circus performances profit, in addition to traditional elements, streaming, video recordings, projections, multi-spatiality, and interactivity with diverse censor- and virtual technology and utilize corporealizing knowledge, such as movement capture technology and virtual building of spaces. The appearance of these elements brings new theoretical and practical problems, while the most radical stance in the research field perceives the act of documentation in-itself as an anathema to the quintessential ephemerality of live performance.

What is the narrative and what kind of concepts defining art and the artist are served by the current archival research, carried out in the field of performance arts and memory organizations? Are there blind spots in the gathering of archival materials? Does an artist have the right to destroy, say, the materials pertaining to her/his juvenilia? As an aspect of authorship, the cumulativity of those works might yet possess significance, which the artist fails to recognize in the early phase of her/his career.

An artist conducting research of her/his own work manages data which has been more or less self-produced. The one who conducts contemporary research on others’ works may even utilize her/his personal reception experience combined with other extant materials. But the historian has to settle with only the preserved and available research material. In the future, these three research positions and the availability of their respective research material shall essentially transform the nature of setting research questions in the future.

Ultimately we may ask, what is the philosophical, aesthetic, or social foundation on which the documentation and museumization justify their own existence? Is it the honour of a nation (nationalism), the emancipation of artist’s profession and the independence of the field of arts (modernism), or some other narrative of progress? Is it for that autonomic entity, better known as the field of arts, that supposedly possesses an innate need for self-awareness and autocommunication? Or is it for the different shades of nostalgia? And what about the art that refuses to follow these narratives?

The presentations are invited to propose questions regarding the different types of possibilities and/or some challenges of documentation of new performance situations, without ignoring the relations between the process and its “outcome,” the problematization of voice, space, and time, archival material from different phases, or e.g. TV-produced stage documentation, as well as including all what is recognised as traditional material for research.

The presentations should be 20-30 minutes long, so that the conversation that follows has 10-15 minutes. In addition to Finnish, Swedish and English are equally acceptable languages for the presentation. The key note speaker Prof. Dr. Patrik Primavesi (Institut für Theater­- wissenschaft, Universität Leipzig and Tanzarchiv Leipzig) will discuss the same theme.

Please send the abstracts (max. 200 words) by 2.10.2017 to the following email addresses: and

If there are any technical requirements, please express them in your email. The official program of the seminar shall be published by 16.10.2017, and the deadline for the finalized abstracts is 1.11.2017. The address of the venue: Teatterimuseo, Kaapelitehdas, Tallberginkatu 1 G, 2.krs

In behalf of the board of TeaTS and the Theatre Museum

Pentti Paavolainen                                                                Raija-Liisa Seilo

docent in theatre studies (HU), PhD                                  director, MA

chair for the Theatre Research Society (TeaTS)               Theatre Museum (Helsinki)