Lisa Watts


Puff of smoke:
curating live art / performance in the gallery

Curators’ Symposium
Friday 2nd May 10am - 3pm
The Tetley, Leeds

Performance work is increasingly in dialogue with contemporary visual art; artists frequently utilise live aspects alongside sculpture, moving image and installation as part of a hybrid fine art practice. With Tate Modern's 2012 commissioning of Tino Sehgal's These Associations for the Unilever Series, and the programming of The Tanks as a significant venue, it is clear that live art/performance is now an art form of significance for major galleries; add to that the short listing of Spartacus Chetwynd for the Turner Prize and the plethora of live work in the last Venice Biennale, it seems that the time of performance has surely arrived.

Puff of smoke reflects upon the apparent ascendancy of live art/performance within the gallery context and the shift this has caused in practices of making and curating. Whereas the live art scene of previous years often found a home in designated performance spaces and venues, what consequences and effects does the coming into a gallery raise for contemporary artists, curators, producers, for galleries and their audiences currently? In this one-day workshop we will consider the dynamics of exhibiting live and static works together, question the assigning of value to different practices, as well as issues of funding and support. That performance practices have long enabled the testing of states of awkwardness, and that their duration has allowed audiences to engage in unfolding encounters with the not yet known, has a particular conceptual resonance in contemporary visual art and its theorisation/research. This event will explore the potential and the problematics of making and curating live works in and for galleries.

The day will begin with a case study of Lisa Watts' touring research project Skittish (2013 - 2014) presented by artist and writer Joanne Lee (Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent -University)‎. The research and dialogue for this case study has prompted a series of provocations which will initiate the day's discussions, which will be led by four artist/performers;Jordan McKenzie (artist of performance/ film/ site specific art‎; Ralph Dartford (ACE officer, writer, performance poet)‎, Victoria Gray (artist of performance/ video) and Sarah Spanton, performer, facilitator and arts consultant). Intended to be a richly conversational session, participants will be encouraged to share and discuss their own experience of and questions about curating live works in a gallery context.

This event is geared at curators, producers and programmers who already work with performance practices in a gallery context or intend to. It will be an opportunity to shape debate and to create new networks and communities of practice.

Skittish is a research project that has resulted in three exhibitions and residencies at Spacex (Exeter), Vane (Newcastle) and The Tetley, (Leeds), where performance work by Lisa Watts has been curated alongside the work of a different sculptor (Lucy May, David Kefford and Samara Scott) in each venue which shares similar artistic processes, concerns and aesthetics to Watts' live art practice. There will be an opportunity to see the current iteration of Skittish at the Tetley during the day.

This event is free but places are limited, advanced booking is required.
Please email to book a place before Monday 28th April.

Supported by The Arts Council England and Leeds City Council

The symposium will be held at:

The Tetley during Easter 2014
The Tetley,

Hunslet Road, Leeds,
LS10 1JQ, UK

+44 (0)7930 236383