Clare Thornton

Performance Re-enactment Society

The Performance Re-enactment Society (PRS) is an occasional collective of artists, archivists and researchers, who use archival documents and audience’s memories to revive past art experiences and create them anew. Their collaborative performance re-enactments are acts of conservation and transform past works into new events. In it’s current constellation, the PRS are Dr. Paul Clarke, Clare Thornton, Tom Marshman with guests Hugo Glendinning, Laura Dannequin, David Curtis-Ring and Samantha Sweeting.

The Performance Re-enactment Society have examined the remains of live art today through diverse practice as research commissions. We are interested in the ways in which this strand of recent art history can be conserved, communicated and understood across generations and how we might do performance art history through practice.

Act 1: Unfurl – After Alison Knowles

Spike Island, Bristol

November 2012

Performance Re-enactment Society presented 3 participatory Acts during ‘One Night Stand: Performance’ at Spike Island. Punctuating the evening’s proceedings these 3 re-enactments were inspired by works by Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono and Sophie Calle.

performance re-enactment of After Alison Knowles photo by Max McClure performance re-enactment Clare Thornton unfurling blankets One Night Stand event at Spike Island

Photo Max McClure


Performing Documents, Arnolfini, Bristol

September 2012

During our residency, I worked specifically with dance artist Laura Dannequin, towards a new work for ‘Group Show’. We focused our research upon sculptural works documented in the Arnolfini archives and devising a new live work in direct response to these materials. ‘Group Show’ was presented in the Arnolfini Galleries during the Performing Documents: Remake programme in September 2012.

The sculptural work ‘Love Seat’ was first exhibited at Arnolfini in Becks Futures 2006. This 2012 cover version was created with photographer Carl Newland and dance artist Laura Dannequin in Arnolfini’s Dark Studio during our early research.

After After Richard Hughes with Laura Dannequin photo Carl Newland

After Richard Hughes ‘Love Seat’


Salad Dressing – A Cover of Crackers

Cover-ed, Arnolfini, Bristol

March-April 2011

Performance Re-enactment Society were commissioned by Arnolfini to produce a new bookwork.

Salad Dressing was a remake of Ed Ruscha’s bookwork Crackers and created with Tom Sowden, Samantha Sweeting and David Curtis-Ring. Excitingly, Ed Ruscha has included ‘Salad Dressing’ in his new book, more info here.

We also produced a costume and live event to launch this new publication and a short film. Salad Dressing will be exhibited in Ed Ruscha Books & Co., Gagosian Gallery, NY in March-April 2013.

Salad Dressing - A cover version of Ed Ruscha book Crackers



The Pigs of Today are the Hams of Tomorrow
Plymouth Art Centre

January 2010

Associate Curator Marina Abramovic named this exhibition after the title of an essay by the eminent German critic Georg Jappe, a conceptual piece that challenged arts relation to politics. The title is very appropriate to the preservation of performance. Is the live art practice of today dead tomorrow? And does it needs to be dead, like meat, in order to be consumed?

UNTITLED PERFORMANCE STILLS are a photographic collection capturing participants’ memories of performance art created during the live laboratory symposium a Royal Williams Yard. Following the exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre, the collection was then presented within AFTERLIVE, at Norwich Arts Centre.

Performance Re-enactment Society performance memories photos Hugo Glendinning


Juliet & Romeo by John Latham

Fiona’s Shoe, South London Gallery

7th March 2009

A restaging of John Latham’s ‘play without words’ Juliet and Romeo, performed by myself and Tom Marshman, with  a special evening event curated by Stewart Home.

Flat Time House and the South London Gallery jointly produced this one-off restaging of John Latham’s performance Juliet and Romeo. To accompany the performance, the writer and artist Stewart Home programmed an evening of events including book and poetry readings, music and film from protagonists of the radical scene in 1960s London in which Latham was an active participant.

The performance involved “two bodies, one male and painted partially blue, the other female and light red or orange…dressed to excess in printed paper”. Accidental contact escalates to major altercation as the figures fight it out in a battle of the Apollonian and Dionysian, the Classical and Romantic, formal and informal.

John Latham performance 1966 Destruction In Art Mercury Theatre Clare Thornton re-staging - Juliet & Romeo by John Latham @ South London Gallery

For more info go here.


The Cover of a Book

Arnolfini, Bristol

November 2008 – January 2009

Done any good books lately? As part of the show The Cover of a Book is the Beginning of a Journey, the Performance Re-enactment Society (PRS) invited visitors to take part in a series of enactments in response to the book works in the exhibition. Through a programme of participatory events, they carried out a selection of instruction-based works, realising other people’s art and creating original versions.

Douglas Gordon’s Three Steps to Heaven (1996)
Unfurl (Alison Knowles, 1979)
Question Marks (Julius Koller, 1996)
do it! (Hans Ulrich Obrist, 1993 – 2005).

Performance Re-enactment Society Brochure for Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol


Darkside Live

Arnolfini, Bristol

December 2007

Developed with Tom Marshman, in collaboration with live art archivists Bex Carrington and Julian Warren, costume designer Pam Tait and director/research fellow Paul Clarke.

Tom Marshman and Clare Thornton had a mission – to breathe new life into performance archives through an evening of re-enactment and ‘tableau vivant’. They invited participants to join in the fun of recreating a feast of memorable performance moments. Each captured in a photograph, these images were collated along with their accessioning form and are now held in the Arnolfini Archive.

Nick Abrahams re-enacting performance memory @ Arnolfini, Bristol