Performance Exchange is a new dispersed platform for performance art in commercial galleries. Hosted in venues across London over a single weekend in July 2021 each participating gallery will present a performance from an artist they represent.

Alongside the presentation of the works themselves, Performance Exchange has worked with the artists and galleries in the programme to research and produce detailed digital documents that will highlight a direct link from the live work shown to its acquisition – be that as a contractual relationship, or through documentation and material residues such as film, installation, props and scripts.

Together the set of bespoke acquisitions documents will make up a unique and innovative digital guide to the programme, the purchasing and support of performance art that merges aesthetic, economic, and practical factors.

Since its beginnings in the underground art scenes  of the 1950s and 60s, performance has become an increasingly important part of a great number of contemporary artists’ work – both as a stand-alone practice, and within much broader constellation of production, from painting to ceramics, film, drawing, and installation.

Performance Exchange highlights the ways in which commercial galleries do support artists whose practice is multi-disciplinary, yet might struggle to make the live and ephemeral elements of their work visible within the object-focused art market and acts as a catalyst for changing collecting structures so they can reflect individual artist’s practice as a holistic entity.

Following on from the live programme, three UK public museum partners—Towner Eastbourne, Leicester Gallery at De Montfort University and Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool—will each acquire an artwork from the programme, supported by an acquisitions fund, and with a view to their future presentation.

Museum Acquisitions create new audiences for artists and provide important long-term legacy for their practice. Through this acquisition programme, Performance Exchange also creates a cross-sector collaboration of the art market and museums, encouraging them to share knowledge and expertise towards their common goals of having as broad a spectrum of practices as possible being supported now, and understood in the future.