Performance Afterlives

Performances only exist in the present, in the ephemeral experiences of performers and their audiences, in the interactive spaces of their engagement. And yet, the performativity of powerful creative works can resound in future iterations, in the reproductions and ‘covers’ that come later. The original works, while forever lost, continue to resonate over time through photos, recordings, transcripts, and other documentation. Their influence also persists in the memories and associations of participants. In a sense, performances have afterlives that extend well beyond the final act.

With modern recitals of dance, music and drama, lost original works are both replicated and transformed. The artistic sources become models for emulation, as well as stimuli for creativity, within an entangled history of referents. Each reproduction is itself a new performance, transient yet impactful, with the potential to inspire other creative works. The afterlives of performances are gradually interwoven, layered in a temporal palimpsest of recreations.

Image: Photo by Joseph Phillips from Pexels.

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