The Poïpoïdrome in Budapest: A Case Study in Curating Changeability in Contemporary Art

Judit Bodor, Roddy Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper explores the relationship between the first exhibition of The Poïpoïdrome by Robert Filliou and Joachim Pfeufer in Budapest, 1976 and its later reconstruction in 1998 by György Galántai and Artpool Art Research Center. It does so to suggest a case study for considering challenges in addressing the place of historical situational, performance art works in exhibitions and collections. Artpool’s active and generative approach to the reconstruction uses the work and its archives not as evidence but as resource for the activation of artworks in the present. We will argue that this ‘generative’ archival-curatorial approach is empathetic to the spatial-temporal changeability of performance and ‘preserves’ the fundamental value of the work. This artist-led approach differs from traditional museum practices toward the post avant- garde yet aligns with later emerging sensibility of ‘variable media’ and ‘changeability’. The paper will compare Artpool’s approach to other institutional approaches to historical performance emerging since the late 1990s, such as documentary exhibitions focusing on material remains salvaged from past and those drawing on forms of re-enactment and re-interpretation. The problem and opportunity of the work’s inseparable existence as both itself and its archive will be considered in relation to the radical and transformative ontology of performance. We will also introduce recent theories around the conservation of media arts that call for acknowledging change as fundamental to these artworks’ survival. These include the Variable Media Initiative (Guggenheim 2000) and theorist and conservator Hanna Hölling more recent ideas around ‘the aesthetics of change’ as two forms of critiquing ‘the aesthetics of disappearance’ (Hölling 2015) which defined our understanding of performance practice for a long time. We will evaluate the potential of Artpool’s approach to The Poïpoïdrome in realising these ideas in practice and consider its consequences in terms of understanding the identity, collection and interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApparatus. Film, Media and Digital Cultures of Central and Eastern Europe
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Apr 2020
EventDoing Performance Art History: A Congress of Actors and Observers - Cabaret Voltaire, Zürich, Switzerland
Duration: 3 Nov 20165 Nov 2016

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