In recent decades, art museums’ definition of art has expanded to include not only inanimate objects but also live performers. This shift represents a transformation in museum culture and an increase in curated live performance. Performing the Museum: Displaying Gender and Archiving Labor, from Performance Art to Theater contributes to emerging debates in performance studies that seek to understand how performance is impacted by museums. This project, however, does not look solely at performance in museum spaces. Rather, it is one of the first to align contemporary museum performance with theatrical works that dramatize the creation and subsequent museum exhibition of visual art. The project examines work by Marina Abramović, Asco, Guillermo Gom?z-Pe?a, Maria Hassabi, and the musical Sunday in the Park with George. Moving between the museum gallery and the proscenium stage, I examine how performers’ labor and certain gendered stereotypes are revealed in the act of being on display.
My analysis focuses on material documents that support or augment a performance, such as photographs, performer contracts, and costumes, as a means to analyze how performers’ labor and considerations of gender are rendered legible through what I term “performance remainder.” Performance remainder is an analytic strategy that draws together the material objects that support or augment a performance, a performance event, and, finally, a broader landscape of visual cultures. The analytic extends the temporal and material life of a performance, challenging discourses of disappearance or ephemerality that predominate in performance studies. The project reveals how certain types of cultural workers are under or de-valued in relationship to ideas of display, exhibition, and curation. I ultimately argue that the way performance intersects with the strategies and histories of museal display, whether visible in museums or theater spaces, reproduces certain gendered narratives about how women have historically been rendered visible in relationship to museums, exhibition, and the display of visual art. Performance remainder strategically aligns live performance and material objects to foreground the ways in which gender, agency, and labor intersect in the interface between live performance and the art world.