Joumana Emil Abboud, The Diver, 2004–05, still from a four-minute video with audio narration.

The Delfina Foundation in London has  launched an initiative to document the history of performance art from the Arab world.The foundation has launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise funds for the project (Staging History: performance art in the Arab world). The project will only be funded if at least £15,000 is pledged by Oct 28, so go take a look and help “stage a groundbreaking exhibition on performance art in the Arab world through rare archives & new contemporary artworks.”

“We plan to bring together existing archival materials with new research to create this resource,” says Aaron Cezar, the foundation’s director. “It’s a complex proposition as the project involves delving into different disciplines in the Arab world, since performance art has not been fully considered as a separate art form but one embedded in dance, music, theatre and the visual arts.”

Cezar goes on to elaborate on the problems of a “Western-dominated framework”  of “performance art” when it comes to the Arab world:

“Many visual artists in the region, such as Hassan Sharif and Mona Hatoum, have incorporated performance in their work over the years, although the outcomes have not necessarily been ‘live art’ but videos or sculptures. We’ll have to redefine the Western-dominated framework of what performance art is,” Cezar says.

Like Mathaf’s recent initiative to create a database of Middle Eastern art,  the Delfina Foundation intends this initiative to fill a perceived gap in the history and evolution of what we understand as “performance art.”

According to the Foundation, the evolution of Arab performance art has not experienced the same level of understanding and visibility compared to other cultures, …Aaron Cezar, founding Director of Delfina Foundation, said: “The history of Arab performance art is little known, and has received less profile. While internationally, performance has become more critically and commercially successful.” Cezar identifies Palestinian audio-visual collective Tashweesh’s approach to performance as representing what Delfina Foundation is trying to achieve. Tashweesh, who create performances using sound, video recordings, and archival material, were in residence at Delfina in 2009.

The non-profit organisation, which was founded in 2007 to promote artistic exchange and supports the largest artist residency programme in London, aims to raise £15,000 through its crowdfunding campaign.

The campaign “has been selected by Art Basel to be part of its new Crowdfunding Initiative to support outstanding non-commercial art projects.”

Initially, the funds will be used to develop a residency program for a curator and artists. The curatorial residency will enable the research and collection of material while the artist residencies will enable new artworks to be created in response to this material.

For more information on the project and to see some of the fantastic rewards on offer visit the Kickstarter campaign page here.

The initiave is accompanied by a thematic residency programme, entitled “Performance as Process”, which is due to launch late next year. International artists, including Joumana Emil Abboud of Palestine, will take up residencies as part of the initiative. Abboud will present a live performance piece, which will be shown alongside her mainly video-based performative works. The revenue raised through crowdfunding will support further residencies in London and the Arab region for artists and a curator.

The Diver from Jumana Emil Abboud on Vimeo.

According to a statement by the foundation, there will be an exhibition in July 2015 in London in collaboration with Shubbak, featuring rare archives and new contemporary artworks.

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