CFP: Crossed Archives International Conference


Call for participation

The first International Conference of the project ‘ARTHE-Archiving Theatre’ intends to enable a set of dialogues between diverse mapping experiences – regarding the location, identification, treatment, conservation and eventual public mediation – of performing arts archives from the end of the 20th century, with particular focus on its last 30 years. This is a time of great technical and aesthetic transformations in the scene, in the training and work of the performer, in “independent” work modalities without theatre managers, including the emergence of performative experiences: from performance art to physical theatre, poor theatre, intercultural theatre, visual theatre, as well as to dance theatre, new dance, contemporary dance, among others. This period also entails major changes in the technological means at hand – from photocopiers to the Ford Transit and the handheld video camera, from the prêt-à-porter to charter flights – with repercussions on the modes of production and associated materials, now manifest in the archives. In Portugal, the period at stake coincides, in a broad sense, with the stretch leading up to the 25th of April 1974 and its aftermath.

What can be encountered in these archives? To what particular type of knowledge do they provide access? What are the challenges brought about by the diverse materiality of their documents, to the very task of archiving and the idea of archiving? What do they tell us about their time and the way in which the performing arts inhabit and participate in it?

After a journey at the National Museum of Theatre and Dance in July 2023, in which the provisional – currently still under work – results of the mapping of the state of the archives of seventeen Portuguese theatre companies who agreed to join the project, were presented and discussed, this Conference with an international and comparative scope proposes a cross-approach of similar endeavours: from Chile to Brazil, from Italy to the United Kingdom. It is about sharing, reflecting on and considering ways of approaching (and possibly providing for the preservation) of the companies’ archives, particularly the ones of the period in case, closely related to the key terms “Independent Theatre” and “Decentralization” which are recurrent in the discourses of the time. It is about understanding the archive not only as a system of organization and as way of rethinking the past from a situated present, but also as a set of practices, decisions and concrete material procedures.

This encounter will gather researchers and artists such as keynote speakers Heike Roms, consultant of ‘ARTHE-Archiving Theatre’, organizer of the project ‘It was forty years ago today…’: Locating the Early History of Performance Art in Wales 1965-1979, and Elisabeth Azevedo, coordinator and researcher of the ‘Traje em Cena’ project, who organized the costume collection at the Theatro Municipal de São Paulo and the research project ‘Inventário da Cena Paulistana’.

The Conference will also feature recent experiences in which the digital takes on a central expression regarding the ways of imagining, treating, and presenting the archive. This is the case of the European project (ERC) INCOMMON. In praise of community. Shared creativity in arts and politics in Italy (1959-1979) represented by Marco Baravalle. In addition to having inventoried the tense relationship between performing arts and politics in the Italy of the “anni di piombo”, the project proposes cartographies merging the protagonists with their existential and aesthetic experiences. Two projects from Chile are part of this same line of approach to archives of performing arts. If CATASTRO DE ARCHIVOS DE ARTES CENICAS, represented here by Pía Gutiérrez, professor at the School of Theatre at PUC in Chile and member of the ARDE project, is the international proposal that most resembles the kind of mapping carried out by ARTHE, the project ‘ARDE-Archivos de Arte’, represented by researcher Katharina Eitner, unfolds the notion of archive taking into account the specificity of each process of work; somewhat like INCOMMON, it documents current scenic practices whilst revisiting specific archives and mapping out cartographies.

Throughout the cross-presentation and critical discussion of the objectives, methodologies and results of each of these distinct projects coming from different contexts, we are looking for an approach to the situation of the archives of performing arts which considers their contribution to a better understanding of the tight implication of the arts with the societies they participate in. We also try to ponder on forms of better preserving them.

The Conference proposes an open call for communications with focus on specific work with archives of the performing arts created in the last 30 years of the last century, which may help to problematize artistic, philosophical, technical, historiographical, sociological and political issues regarding both the practices of archiving and the archive as a problem, as well as the eventual production and transmission of knowledge stemming from archives and/or the cultural history of their times/temporalities of construction.

Archivists, researchers and artists are therefore invited to propose communications of around 15 minutes, which start from concrete work with archives in performing arts, focusing on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • archives at risk: what can be done?
  • taking care of archives in performing arts: inventory, classification, cataloguing, indexing, digitization and rendering accessible
  • mediations and remediations of the archive
  • specific approaches to the materialities of the archive: paper documentation of various sorts, objects/props, equipment, audio-visuals, scenography set models, costumes and garments, etc.
  • queer archives and the “queering” of the archive
  • “minor” archives, “counter-archives”, “anarchives” and “archives of the common”
  • interconnected archives: personal, institutional and other related collections
  • archive-specific performativities: what archives to produce and what other performances do they enable?
  • the digital and the archives: digitalization and born-digital documentation
  • memories that unfold across archives
  • ways to reactivate archives in performing arts

Conference Dates: 11 and 12th December 2023
Venue: Nacional Theatre São João, Porto
Organisation: Project ARTHE – Archiving Theatre, CET, FLUL, TNSJ
Scientific committee: Maria João Brilhante, Ana Bigotte Vieira, Paula Caspão, Vera Borges, Pedro Estácio, Sofia Patrão, Daniel Tércio, Hélia Marçal, Heike Roms

Submission guidelines: The communication abstracts must contain between 300 and 500 words in Portuguese, English, French or Spanish, and provide 4 keywords. They will come with a brief CV (200 words) and must be sent with the subject:

ARTHE- Crossed Archives International Conference

to the address:

Submission deadline: 31st October
Communication of the peer review outcomes: 6th November
Deadline for registration: 24th November
Conference Registration fee: 25 euros


Faculdade de Letras Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

© 2023 Centro de Estudos de Teatro da Faculdade de Letras da ULisboa

Este website é financiado por fundos nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., no âmbito dos projectos «UIDB/00279/2020» e «UIDP/00279/2020».

This website is funded by national funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., under the projects «UIDB/00279/2020» and «UIDP/00279/2020».

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