Performance Matters

rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance

2009 to 2014
Performance research project
Lois Weaver performing at Trashing Performance, Toynbee Studios, London, 2011. Photo: Christa Holka

Between 2009 and 2012 Performance Matters organised three themed years of research activities – Performing Idea (2009-10), Trashing Performance (2010-11) and Potentials of Performance (2011-12) – and realised two international symposia, five artist-led workshops, over 100 performances, presentations and projects; commissioned six research dialogues; and produced and published six new films arising from contributor’s research. In total these events were attended by over 5,000 people and involved over 500 artists, cultural workers and academics in the research activities of the project. These events took places across London at Tate Modern, Toynbee Studios, Whitechapel Gallery, Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, the Yard Theatre, ]performance s p a c e [ and The White Building.

The full extent of project activities is detailed on the Performance Matters website.

Gavin was lead curator of the Trashing Performance year of activities which included talks, shows, films and workshops held across Toynbee Studios, Tate Modern and Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.

Contributors included: Oreet Ashery, Neil Bartlett, Bean, Dickie Beau, Bavand Behpoor, Bruce Benderson, Lauren Berlant, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Lisa Blackman, Bird La Bird, Rocio Boliver (La Congelada de Uva), Mel Brimfield, Tania Bruguera, Gavin Butt, Ingo Cando, Simon Casson of Duckie, Stuart Comer, Common Culture, Augusto Corrieri, Vaginal Davis, The Disabled Avant-Garde (Katherine Araniello and Aaron Williamson), Jennifer Doyle, Marcia Farquhar, Figs in Wigs, Inti Guerrero, Sue Hart, Adrian Heathfield, Adrian Howells, David Hoyle, Dominic Johnson, Joe E. Jeffreys, Lois Keidan, Keith Khan, Bettina Knaup, Amy Lamé, Nando Messias, Miss Annabel Sings, Tavia Nyong’o, Nigel & Louise of Shunt, Harold Offeh, Owen Parry, Platform and Liberate Tate, Scottee, Benjamin Sebastian, Marc Siegel, Susan Stryker, Carmelita Tropicana, Mara Vujic of City of Women, Ben Walters, Lois Weaver, Jonny Woo.

‘Trashing Performance’, with its enriching mix of performance and spirited debate, provided a timely reminder that vitality, irreverence and unfettered expression still have an essential role to play in an increasingly austere, elitist and distant art world.” – Morgan Quaintance, Art Monthly


In its final year Performance Matters produced Crossovers, a major new series of artists’ documentaries and critical dialogue films arising from our research.

The Performance Matters Archive is a box set of 40 DVDs of documentation of the two main events Performing Idea (2009/10) and Trashing Performance (2010/11) and is housed in publicly accessible archives around the world.

A conversation reflecting on Performance Matters between the three project directors can be found in Volume 24 Issue 1 of Contemporary Theatre Review.