The Host: An Incomplete History of Performance at S.M.A.K The Host: An Incomplete History of Performance at S.M.A.K

Masterclass Performance, Collection, Archive

In the framework of From the Collection | Museum for a Small City / Rebuild by Richard Venlet

10 November 2020 - 19 February 2021

In the past few years, artist and choreographer Ula Sickle has shifted her practice from the stage to include developing projects for the white cube and museum contexts. Last spring, she created The Host: An Incomplete History of Performance at S.M.A.K. The performance took the form of a subjective guided tour through the history of Performance Art at the S.M.A.K. museum in Gent. The artist conducted her research through an oral history, setting up a series of conversations with the museum staff. Tracing as it were the museum’s embodied archive, the attention shifted away from the visual to experience, memory and context.

The performance marked the first re-activation of Richard Venlet’s artwork ‘Museum for a Small City’ entitled ‘Rebuild’, that partly functions as a display of the S.M.A.K. collection. This current reactivation puts an emphasis on the immaterial, with an institutional focus on the lack of attention for Performance and Live Art in public collections.

The masterclass will take the research and methodologies used in the making of The Host, as a starting point. The aim is to look at performative strategies for dealing with archives, collections and performance based works, that exist only through traces, documentation and memory. The masterclass will explore the collection of SMAK and the rich history of performances that have occurred within and around the museum, with a view towards the collection of stories and anecdotes about the artworks and the building itself. These will become the basis for the creation of short scripted performances recorded as podcasts.


Ula Sickle - (CA/PL) is a choreographer and performer based in Brussels, Belgium. From a background in contemporary dance, she works across disciplines and often in connection to domains such as the visual arts, contemporary music or architecture. While her work takes many forms, from video to installation to live performance, she focuses on a choreographic approach to movement and a work on perception and reception, specific to the live arts.

The masterclass was originally scheduled only for the week from 9 to 12 November 2020 in presence at S.M.A.K. museum under the guidance of Ula Sickle. Due to the restrictive measures due to the prevention of the spreading of the coronavirus this was no longer possible. It was therefore decided to divide the project week into two blocks, one for reflection in November - with external guests and examples of counter-reaction to the situation caused by the pandemic - and one for practice in January and February with the research in the archive and the presentation search results.

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