Sources and Mediations

Project Sources and Mediations. Production and analysis of sources in performing arts (2012-2017), financed from the resources of the National Programme for the Development of Humanities, was carried out by a team from the Institute of Polish Culture, University of Warsaw.

The project aimed to reflect on the methods of producing and analysing sources for research on performance arts. Research in this field of culture – theatre and opera, performance and dance – distinguishes from other research related to art (e.g. literature, painting, film) the lack of a material subject of analysis. Such features as the eventual nature, the interaction between the creators and the viewers, uniqueness and ephemerality, as well as the changes taking place from the show to the show, related to the psychophysical condition of the actors/ performers/dancers, make performing arts an exceptionally complex field of research.

Already in the 1970s, among the classics of theatre studies, there was an intense discussion regarding documenting and recording theatre performances. The basis of this debate was the statement that theatre (and other performing arts) cannot be studied without producing, in a scientific manner, sources that may yet become subject to in-depth analysis. Such sources, according to theorist Stefania Skwarczyńska, should be created on the basis of meticulously collected documents and forms of recording of the performance produced in various ways: from film recording to description and sociological interviews with the public. This postulate, in practice, resulted in a library of diverse, still autonomously existing, linear records of the spectacle. Thus, this kind of sources escaped the syncretic and eventual character of theatre, dance and performance. Today, new media and the possibility of building narratives in the virtual space, their nonlinearity, synchronism, multidimensionality, make sources for studying performances may take on a new character and a new form, and at the same time fulfil the research postulates formulated by classical theology.

Selection of articles in English:

Dorota Sajewska, The Myth of the Ephemerality of Theater

Dorota Sajewska, Dorota Sosnowska, Body As Medium. Between Theory and Technology of Theatre

Dorota Sosnowska, Recording Theater Performances—Between Presence and Mediality

Dorota Sosnowska, Documentation in Theater and Performance Art—Text, Recording, Medium

Dorota Sosnowska, Halka/Haiti – white archive, black body? Reenactment and repetition in the Polish-colonial context

Łukasz Zaremba, A Gift without Debt. Polentransport Performance by Joseph Beuys