By Matthew Reason (auth.)
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Additional info for Documentation, Disappearance and the Representation of Live Performance
Present within the discourses of archival promise exists a continuing duality, between assertions of retention and yet also of loss and disappearance – particularly in terms of references to scraps and fragments and within metaphors of discovery and reconstruction. It is this promise of accurate, truthful and singular reconstruction of the past that has been subject to greatest theoretical challenge, questioning the use and conceptualisation of the archive in a manner that has returned attention from the act of documentation back to the action of disappearance.
To archive is synonym with to document; to archive is to do documentation. To archive symbolically asserts ideas of recording, preserving and remembering events and the past. This is not least the case, although not unproblematically so, with the performing arts archive. It is unsurprising therefore that the question of archives, and theories and hopes about archives, permeate through and around discourses of live performance practice, research and theory. In response to perceptions of transience and disappearance, the archive in concept represents the purest desire to document and preserve live performance.
Within this fever for archives, Derrida also describes what can appear to be a process of ‘outbidding’ in the attempt to return to or retain origins or ‘commencement’. This is a process that shifts between concepts of archives, archaeology and live memory – shifting from original documents, to the site of excavation, to the site of experience – with each offering greater primacy in the attempt to return to ‘live origin’. With performance such hierarchy of origins places greatest primacy on the voice of the artist and the value of having been there live.