A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things

2 Jul 2015 – 15 Aug 2015

Event times

Monday - Saturday, 11:00-18:00

Cost of entry


London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Nearest tube station: Victoria
  • Nearest train station: Victoria

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This major group exhibition explores performance as a form of recording and re-writing history. Participants include ARC:HIVE, Doa Aly, Marwa Arsanios, Coco Fusco, Emily Jacir, Mona Hatoum, Sharon Hayes, Mohammed Kazem, Xiao Lu, Hassan Sharif, Wael Shawky, Sharif Waked, Lin Yilin, and more.


A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things launches Staging Histories, a new research and commissioning platform for performance art. Through archival research and new commissions, Staging Histories traces seminal moments of performance mapping shared histories and contemporary global concerns.  The first stage of the project explores performance art from and in relation to the Arab world.

The exhibition presents a constellation of key performative works, photographs, video documentation and archival materials from the last three decades. The thematic connections cross the Arab world but relate to global politics, economics and cultural shifts. The selected artworks can therefore be understood as a preface, consequence or echo of major developments during this period.  

A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things runs in tandem with Echoes & Reverberations at the Hayward Gallery Project Space, a group exhibition that also emerged from Staging Histories.

A Prologue to the Past and Present State of Things is curated by Aaron Cezar with contributions from Ala’ Younis and Barrak Alzaid (Staging Histories curatorial fellows) and Jane Scarth (Delfina Foundation).

Co-commissioned by Delfina Foundation and Shubbak - A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture (11-26 July). Special thanks to the British Council, Video Data Bank, and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde. 

An online catalogue has been produced in collaboration with Ibraaz Platform 009, which addresses the genealogies of performance art in North Africa and the Middle East.  Contributors include Anthony Downey, Aaron Cezar, Ala Younis, Sulayman Bassam and Barrak Alzaid. Visit www.ibraaz.org to view the catalogue from 2 July.

With support raised through Art Basel Crowdfunding Initiative on Kickstarter.

Exhibiting artists

Coco Fusco

Sharon Hayes

Mona Hatoum

Marwa Arsanios

Emily Jacir

Hassan Sharif

Sharif Waked

Lin Yilin

Wael Shawky

Xiao Lu

The Yes Men

Mohammed Kazem


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