Performance art

Performance art

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In art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

, performance art is a performance
Performance
A performance, in performing arts, generally comprises an event in which a performer or group of performers behave in a particular way for another group of people, the audience. Choral music and ballet are examples. Usually the performers participate in rehearsals beforehand. Afterwards audience...

 presented to an audience
Audience
An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature , theatre, music or academics in any medium...

, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or via media; the performer can be present or absent. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any venue or setting and for any length of time. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work.

Visual arts, performing arts and art performance



Performance art is an essentially contested concept: any single definition of it implies the recognition of rival uses. As concepts like "democracy" or "art", it implies productive disagreement with itself.

The meaning of the term in the narrower sense is related to postmodernist traditions in Western culture. From about the mid-1960s into the 1970s, often derived from concepts of visual art, with respect to Antonin Artaud
Antonin Artaud
Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud, more well-known as Antonin Artaud was a French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director...

, Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

, the Situationist
Situationist
The Situationist International was an internationalist European revolutionary group founded in 1957, and which reached its peak of influence in the general strike of May 1968 in France....

s, Fluxus
Fluxus
Fluxus—a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"—is an international network of artists, composers and designers noted for blending different artistic media and disciplines in the 1960s. They have been active in Neo-Dada noise music and visual art as well as literature, urban planning,...

, Installation art
Installation art
Installation art describes an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. Generally, the term is applied to interior spaces, whereas exterior interventions are often called Land art; however, the boundaries between...

, and Conceptual Art
Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many of the works, sometimes called installations, of the artist Sol LeWitt may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions...

, performance art tended to be defined as an antithesis
Antithesis
Antithesis is a counter-proposition and denotes a direct contrast to the original proposition...

 to theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

, challenging orthodox artforms and cultural norms. The ideal had been an ephemeral and authentic experience for performer and audience in an event
Event
Event can refer to many things such as:* An observable occurrence, phenomenon or an extraordinary occurrenceA type of gathering:* A ceremony, for example, a marriage* A competition, for example, a sports competition* A convention...

 that could not be repeated, captured or purchased. The in this time widely discussed difference, how concepts of visual arts and concepts of performing arts are utilized, can determine the meanings of a performance art presentation (compare Performance: A Critical Introduction by Marvin Carlson, P. 103,2-105,1).

Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a conceptual art
Conceptual art
Conceptual art is art in which the concept or idea involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic and material concerns. Many of the works, sometimes called installations, of the artist Sol LeWitt may be constructed by anyone simply by following a set of written instructions...

 which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes. It largely refers to a performance which is presented to an audience, but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, or which alternately does not seek to depict a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. It therefore can include action or spoken word as a communication between the artist and audience, or even ignore expectations of an audience, rather than following a script written beforehand.

Some kinds of performance art nevertheless can be close to performing arts. Such performance may utilize a script or create a fictitious dramatic setting, but still constitute performance art in that it does not seek to follow the usual dramatic norm of creating a fictitious setting with a linear script which follows conventional real-world dynamics; rather, it would intentionally seek to satirize or to transcend the usual real-world dynamics which are used in conventional theatrical plays.

Performance artists often challenge the audience to think in new and unconventional ways, break conventions of traditional arts, and break down conventional ideas about "what art is". As long as the performer does not become a player who repeats a role, performance art can include satirical elements (compare Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group is an organization founded by Chris Wink, Matt Goldman and Phil Stanton. The organization produces theatrical shows and concerts featuring popular music, comedy and multimedia; recorded music and scores for film and television; television appearances for shows such as The Tonight...

); utilize robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

s and machines as performers, as in pieces of the Survival Research Laboratories
Survival Research Laboratories
Survival Research Laboratories is a machine performance art group credited for pioneering the genre of large-scale machine performance. After about 30 years in San Francisco, California, SRL spent most of 2008 moving to Petaluma, California....

; or borrow elements of any performing arts
Performing arts
The performing arts are those forms art which differ from the plastic arts insofar as the former uses the artist's own body, face, and presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal or paint which can be molded or transformed to create some physical art object...

 such as dance
Dance
Dance is an art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting....

, music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, and circus.

Some artists, e.g. the Viennese Actionists
Viennese Actionism
The term Viennese Actionism describes a short and violent movement in 20th century art that can be regarded as part of the many independent efforts of the 1960s to develop "action art" . Its main participants were Günter Brus, Otto Mühl, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. As "actionists",...

 and neo-Dada
Neo-Dada
Neo-Dada is a label applied primarily to audio and visual art that has similarities in method or intent to earlier Dada artwork. It is the foundation of Fluxus, Pop Art and Nouveau réalisme. Neo-Dada is exemplified by its use of modern materials, popular imagery, and absurdist contrast...

ists, prefer to use the terms "live art"
Live Art (art form)
Live art is a term used to describe acts of performance undertaken by an artist or a group of artists, as a work of art. It is an innovative and exploratory approach to contemporary performance practices...

, "action art", "actions", "intervention" (see art intervention
Art intervention
Art intervention is an interaction with a previously existing artwork, audience or venue/space. It has the auspice of conceptual art and is commonly a form of performance art. It is associated with the Viennese Actionists, the Dada movement and Neo-Dadaists...

) or "manoeuvre" to describe their performing activities. As genres of performance art appear body art
Body art
Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings, but other types include scarification, branding, scalpelling, shaping , full body tattoo and body painting.More extreme body art can involve things such as mutilation...

, fluxus-performance, happening
Happening
A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere , are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience...

, action poetry
Action poetry
Action Poetry is the active use of poetry, often spreading in a community. It might include painting poetry on murals, or distributing poetry. It can also involve the encouragement of live poetry recitings and distribution of free poetry.-External links:...

, and intermedia
Intermedia
Intermedia was a concept employed in the mid-sixties by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins to describe the ineffable, often confusing, inter-disciplinary activities that occur between genres that became prevalent in the 1960s. Thus, the areas such as those between drawing and poetry, or between painting...

.

Origins


Performance art activity is not confined to European or American art traditions; notable practitioners can be found in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. Performance artists and theorists point to different traditions and histories, ranging from tribal to sporting and ritual or religious events. In an episode of In our time
In Our Time
In Our Time may refer to:* In Our Time , a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway* In Our Time , a collection of illustrations by Tom Wolfe* In Our Time , a BBC discussion programme hosted by Melvyn Bragg...

 broadcast on Thu, 20 Oct 2005, 21:30 on BBC Radio 4, Angie Hobbs
Angie Hobbs
Angela Hunter Hobbs is a British philosopher. Hobbs is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and was previously a Research Fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge. She has a First Class Honours Degree in Classics acquired at New Hall, Cambridge and a PhD in Classical Philosophy from...

, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Warwick; Miriam Griffin, Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford; and John Moles, Professor of Latin, University of Newcastle discussed with Melvin Bragg the idea that Antisthenes
Antisthenes
Antisthenes was a Greek philosopher and a pupil of Socrates. Antisthenes first learned rhetoric under Gorgias before becoming an ardent disciple of Socrates. He adopted and developed the ethical side of Socrates' teachings, advocating an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue. Later writers...

 and Diogenes
Diogenes
Diogenes is a Greek name shared by several important historical figures:*Diogenes of Sinope , better known as Diogenes the Cynic or simply Diogenes, philosopher...

 in ancient Greece practiced a form of performance art and that they acquired the epithet of cynic which means "dog" due to Diogenes behaving repeatedly like a dog in his performances.

There are also accounts of Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 artists such as itinerant poets putting on public performances that could be said to be ancestors of performance art.


Western cultural theorists often trace performance art activity back to the beginning of the 20th century, to the Russian constructivists
Constructivism (art)
Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th...

, Futurists
Futurism
Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century.Futurism or futurist may refer to:* Afrofuturism, an African-American and African diaspora subculture* Cubo-Futurism* Ego-Futurism...

 and Dada
Dada
Dada or Dadaism is a cultural movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literature—poetry, art manifestoes, art theory—theatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a...

. Dada provided a significant progenitor with the unconventional performances of poetry, often at the Cabaret Voltaire
Cabaret Voltaire (Zürich)
Cabaret Voltaire was the name of a nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland. It was founded by Hugo Ball, with his companion Emmy Hennings on February 5, 1916 as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes. Other founding members were Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, and Jean Arp...

, by the likes of Richard Huelsenbeck
Richard Huelsenbeck
Richard Huelsenbeck was a poet, writer and drummer born in Frankenau, Hessen-Nassau.Carl Wilhelm Richard Hülsenbeck was a medical student on the eve of World War I. He was invalided out of the army and emigrated to Zürich, Switzerland in February 1916, where he fell in with the Cabaret Voltaire...

 and Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement...

. Russian Futurist artists could be identified as precursors of performance, such as David Burliuk
David Burliuk
David Davidovich Burliuk was a Russian avant-garde artist of Ukrainian origin , book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism...

, who painted his face for his actions (1910–20) and Alexander Rodchenko
Alexander Rodchenko
Aleksander Mikhailovich Rodchenko was a Russian artist, sculptor, photographer and graphic designer. He was one of the founders of constructivism and Russian design; he was married to the artist Varvara Stepanova....

 and his wife Varvara Stepanova
Varvara Stepanova
Varvara Fyodorovna Stepanova , was a Russian artist associated with the 'Constructivist' movement.She came from peasant origins but was fortunate enough to get an education at Kazan School of Art, Odessa. There she met her lifelong friend and collaborator Alexander Rodchenko...

.

According to the art critic Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg
Harold Rosenberg was an American writer, educator, philosopher and art critic. He coined the term Action Painting in 1952 for what was later to be known as abstract expressionism. The term was first employed in Rosenberg's essay "American Action Painters" published in the December 1952 issue of...

 in the 1940s and 1950s Action Painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 gave artists the freedom to perform - the canvas as "an arena in which to act", thereby rendering the paintings as traces of the artist's performance in his/her studio. Abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism
Abstract expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. It was the first specifically American movement to achieve worldwide influence and put New York City at the center of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris...

 and Action painting
Action painting
Action painting sometimes called "gestural abstraction", is a style of painting in which paint is spontaneously dribbled, splashed or smeared onto the canvas, rather than being carefully applied...

 preceded the Fluxus movement, Happenings and the emergence of Performance Art.

Performance art was anticipated, if not explicitly formulated, by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

's Gutai group
Gutai group
The Gutai group was an artistic movement and association of artists founded by Jiro Yoshihara in Japan in 1954...

 of the 1950s, especially in such works as Atsuko Tanaka
Atsuko Tanaka (artist)
Atsuko Tanaka was a pioneering Japanese avant-garde artist.-Biography:She was born in Osaka, on February 10, 1932.. She went to several local art schools where she worked in mostly figurative mode...

's "Electric Dress" (1956) http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts/art/reviews/9937/.

Yves Klein
Yves Klein
Yves Klein was a French artist considered an important figure in post-war European art. He is the leading member of the French artistic movement of Nouveau réalisme founded in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany...

 had been a precursor of performance art with the conceptual pieces of Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle
Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle
Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle is an artist's book and performance by the French artist Yves Klein...

(Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility) 1959–62, and works like the photomontage, Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void). In the late 1960s Earth artists
Land art
Land art, Earthworks , or Earth art is an art movement which emerged in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked...

 as diverse as Robert Smithson
Robert Smithson
Robert Smithson was an American artist famous for his land art.-Background and education:Smithson was born in Passaic, New Jersey and studied painting and drawing in New York City at the Art Students League of New York....

, Dennis Oppenheim, Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer
Michael Heizer is a contemporary artist specializing primarily in large-scale sculptures and earth art .Heizer was born in Berkeley, California in 1944; and he attended the San Francisco Art Institute. Traveling to New York City in 1966, he began his career producing more conventional, small-scale...

 and Carl Andre
Carl Andre
Carl Andre is an American minimalist artist recognized for his ordered linear format and grid format sculptures. His sculptures range from large public artworks to more intimate tile patterns arranged on the floor of an exhibition space Carl Andre (born September 16, 1935) is an American...

 created environmental pieces that predict the performance art of the 1970s. Works of conceptual artists in the early 1980s, like Sol LeWitt
Sol LeWitt
Solomon "Sol" LeWitt was an American artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism....

, who converted mural-style drawing into an act of performance by others, were influenced by Yves Klein and the Earth artists as well.

1960s


In the 1960s a variety of new works, concepts and the increasing number of artists led to new kinds of performance art.

Prototypic for the artform later explicitly labeled "performance art", were works of artists like Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

 with her Wall piece for orchestra (1962); Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann is an American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. She received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. Her work is primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos, and the body of the...

 with pieces like Meat Joy (1964); Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys was a German performance artist, sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social...

 with How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965); Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
is a Japanese artist whose paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations all share an obsession with repetition, pattern, and accumulation...

, with actions such as a naked flag-burning on the Brooklyn Bridge (1968) and Allan Kaprow
Allan Kaprow
Allan Kaprow was an American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory. His Happenings - some 200 of them - evolved over the years...

 in his many Happenings.

Kaprow had coined the term Happening
Happening
A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere , are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience...

 describing a new artform, at the beginning of the 1960s. A Happening allows the artist to experiment with body motion, recorded sounds, written and spoken texts, and even smells. One of Kaprow's earliest was "Happenings in the New York Scene," written in 1961 as the form was developing. Notably in the Happenings of Allan Kaprow, the audience members become performers. While the audiences in Happenings had been welcomed as the performers, it is only sometimes and often unwittingly that they become an active part in a Performance. Other artists who created Happenings besides Kaprow include Jim Dine
Jim Dine
Jim Dine is an American pop artist. He is sometimes considered to be a part of the Neo-Dada movement. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, attended Walnut Hills High School, the University of Cincinnati, and received a BFA from Ohio University in 1957. He first earned respect in the art world with...

, Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg
Claes Oldenburg is a Swedish sculptor, best known for his public art installations typically featuring very large replicas of everyday objects...

, Robert Whitman
Robert Whitman
Robert Whitman is an American artist best known for his seminal theater pieces of the early 1960s combining visual and sound images, actors, film, slides, and evocative props in environments of his own making...

, and Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell
Wolf Vostell was a German painter, sculptor, noise music maker and Happening artist of the second half of the 20th century. Wolf Vostell is considered one of the pioneers of video art, environment-sculptures, Happenings and the Fluxus Movement...

: Theater is in the Street (Paris in 1958).

Hermann Nitsch
Hermann Nitsch
Hermann Nitsch is an Austrian artist who works in experimental and multimedia modes.Born in Vienna, Nitsch received training in painting during the time he studied at the Wiener Graphische Lehr-und Versuchanstalt. He is called an "actionist" or a performance artist...

 in 1962 presented his "Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries" (Orgien- und Mysterien Theater), a precursor to performance art, close to the performing arts.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

 during the early 1960s beginning to create films and video, in the mid-60s sponsored the Velvet Underground and staged events and performances in New York, like the Exploding Plastic Inevitable
Exploding Plastic Inevitable
The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, sometimes simply called Plastic Inevitable or EPI, was a series of multimedia events organized by Andy Warhol between 1966 and 1967, featuring musical performances by The Velvet Underground and Nico, screenings of Warhol's films, and dancing and performances by...

 (1966) that featured live Rock music, exploding lights, and film.

Indirectly influential for art-world performance, particularly in the United States, were new forms of theatre, embodied by the San Francisco Mime Troupe
San Francisco Mime Troupe
The San Francisco Mime Troupe is a theatre of political satire which performs free shows in various parks in the San Francisco Bay Area and around California. The Troupe does not, however, perform silent mime, but each year creates an original musical comedy that combines aspects of Commedia...

 and the Living Theatre and showcased in Off-Off Broadway theaters in SoHO and at La MaMa
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club
La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club is an off-off Broadway theatre founded in 1961 by Ellen Stewart, and named in reference to her. Located on Manhattan's Lower East Side, the theatre grew out of Stewart's tiny basement boutique for her fashion designs; the boutique's space acted as a theatre for...

 in New York City. The Living Theatre chiefly toured in Europe between 1963 and 1968, and in the U.S. in 1968. A work of this period, Paradise Now
Paradise Now
Paradise Now is a 2005 film directed by Hany Abu-Assad about two Palestinian men preparing for a suicide attack in Israel. It won a Golden Globe for best foreign language film and was nominated for an Academy Award in the same category....

 was notorious for its audience participation and a scene in which actors recited a list of social taboos that included nudity, while disrobing.

The work of performance artists after 1968 often showed influences of the cultural and political events of that year. Barbara T. Smith
Barbara T. Smith
Barbara Turner Smith is an American artist known for her performance work in the late 1960s. She studied painting, art history and religion as an undergraduate at Pomona College, being graduated in 1953, and she received her MFA from University of California, Irvine in 1971...

 with Ritual Meal (1969) was at the forefront of the feminist body-, and performance art of the 1970s; among others including: Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann is an American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. She received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. Her work is primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos, and the body of the...

, and Joan Jonas
Joan Jonas
Born in 1936 in New York City, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of video and performance art and one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s.She began her career in New York City as a sculptor...

. Schneemann and Jonas along with Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

, Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys
Joseph Beuys was a German performance artist, sculptor, installation artist, graphic artist, art theorist and pedagogue of art.His extensive work is grounded in concepts of humanism, social philosophy and anthroposophy; it culminates in his "extended definition of art" and the idea of social...

, Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci
Vito Hannibal Acconci is a Bronx, New York-born, Brooklyn-based designer, landscape architect, performance and installation artist.-Education:...

, and Chris Burden
Chris Burden
Christopher "Chris" Burden is an American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art.-Education:Burden studied for his B.A...

 pioneered the relationship between Body art
Body art
Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings, but other types include scarification, branding, scalpelling, shaping , full body tattoo and body painting.More extreme body art can involve things such as mutilation...

and performance art.

1970s



Artists whose work already before tended to be a performance art, as well as new artists, at the beginning of the 1970s began to present performance art in a stricter form.

New artists with radical performances were Chris Burden
Chris Burden
Christopher "Chris" Burden is an American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art.-Education:Burden studied for his B.A...

, with the 1971 performance piece Shoot, in which he was shot in his left arm by an assistant from a distance of about five meters, and Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci
Vito Hannibal Acconci is a Bronx, New York-born, Brooklyn-based designer, landscape architect, performance and installation artist.-Education:...

 in the same year with Seedbed
Seedbed
A seedbed or seedling bed is the local soil environment in which seeds are planted. Often it comprises not only the soil but also a specially prepared cold frame, hotbed or raised bed used to grow the seedlings in a controlled environment into larger young plants before transplanting them into a...

.

The book Expanded Cinema
Expanded Cinema
Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood , the first book to consider video as an art form, was influential in establishing the field of media arts. In the book he argues that a new, expanded cinema is required for a new consciousness...

, by Gene Youngblood
Gene Youngblood
Gene Youngblood is a theorist of media arts and politics, and a respected scholar in the history and theory of alternative cinemas. His Expanded Cinema , the first book to consider video as an art form, was influential in establishing the field of media arts as a recognized artistic and scholarly...

, marked a shift in the use of media by performance artists. The first book considering video art as an art form, mentions Jud Yalkut
Jud Yalkut
Jud Yalkut is a pioneer in video art. In the 1970s he began experimenting with video in New York and influenced a number of other artists.-Life:...

 as a pioneering video artist. Since 1965 he had collaborated in dozens of intermedia performances throughout the United States, also with Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik was a Korean American artist. He worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the first video artist....

, who beginning of the 1960s already had been a fluxus performer on the way to become a media artist. As to the art of Paik, Youngblood refers to works of Carolee Schneemann and Robert Whitman
Robert Whitman
Robert Whitman is an American artist best known for his seminal theater pieces of the early 1960s combining visual and sound images, actors, film, slides, and evocative props in environments of his own making...

 from the 1960s, which had been pioneering for performance art, becoming an independent artform at the beginning of the 1970s.

The British-based pair Gilbert and George
Gilbert and George
Gilbert & George are two artists who work together as a collaborative duo. Gilbert Proesch and George Passmore have become famous for their distinctive, highly formal appearance and manner and their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks.-Early life:Gilbert Proesch was...

, already in 1970, had documented actions of themselves on video, and created their "living sculpture" performance, being painted in gold and singing "Underneath The Arches" for extended periods. Joan Jonas
Joan Jonas
Born in 1936 in New York City, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of video and performance art and one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s.She began her career in New York City as a sculptor...

 began to include video in her experimental performances in 1972.

In 1973 Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson
Laura Phillips "Laurie" Anderson is an American experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays violin and keyboards and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson did her first performance-art piece in the late 1960s...

 performed Duets on Ice, on the streets of New York City. Marina Abramović
Marina Abramovic
Marina Abramović is a Belgrade-born New York-based Serbian performance artist who began her career in the early 1970s. Active for over three decades, she has recently begun to describe herself as the “grandmother of performance art.” Abramović's work explores the relationship between performer and...

, in the performance "Rhythm 10", conceptually included the violation of her body.

Since 1973 the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building
Woman's Building
The Woman's Building was an non-profit arts and education center located in Los Angeles, California, in the United States. The Woman's Building focused on feminist art and served as a venue for the women's movement and was spearheaded by artist Judy Chicago, graphic designer Sheila Levrant de...

 in Los Angeles had a formative impact on the wave of performances with feminist background.

Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann
Carolee Schneemann is an American visual artist, known for her discourses on the body, sexuality and gender. She received a B.A. from Bard College and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois. Her work is primarily characterized by research into visual traditions, taboos, and the body of the...

 work in 1963, Eye Body, already had been a prototype of performance art. Schneemann in 1975 drew on with innovative solo performances, like Interior Scroll, showing the female body as an artistic medium.

Performance art, because of its relative transience, by the 1970s, had a fairly robust presence in the avant-garde of East Bloc countries, especially Yugoslavia and Poland.

1980s


Until the 1980s, performance art had been demystifying virtuosity. Now it began to embrace technical brilliance. In reference to Presence and Resistance by Philip Auslander, a performance art critic, Sally Banes
Sally Banes
Sally Banes is a notable dance historian, writer, and critic.Sally Banes is recognized as an expert on the current dance scene and the new trends that are continually appearing in the art...

 writes “… by the end of the 1980s, performance art had become so widely known that it no longer needed to be defined; mass culture, especially television, had come to supply both structure and subject matter for much performance art; and several performance artists, including Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson
Laura Phillips "Laurie" Anderson is an American experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays violin and keyboards and sings in a variety of experimental music and art rock styles. Initially trained as a sculptor, Anderson did her first performance-art piece in the late 1960s...

, Spalding Gray
Spalding Gray
Spalding Rockwell Gray was an American actor, playwright, screenwriter, performance artist and monologuist...

, Eric Bogosian
Eric Bogosian
Eric Bogosian is an American actor, playwright, monologist, and novelist of Armenian descent.-Personal life:Bogosian, an Armenian-American, was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, the son of Edwina, a hairdresser and instructor, and Henry Bogosian, an accountant. After graduating from Oberlin College,...

, Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is an American film, stage, and voice actor, and a founding member of the experimental theatre company The Wooster Group...

, and Ann Magnuson
Ann Magnuson
Ann Magnuson is an American actress, performance artist, and nightclub performer who first gained prominence in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan...

, had indeed become crossover artists in mainstream entertainment.”

Despite the fact that many performances are held within the circle of a small art-world group, RoseLee Goldberg
Roselee Goldberg
RoseLee Goldberg is an American-based art historian, author, critic and curator. She wrote a study of performance art, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present...

 notes, in Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present that "performance has been a way of appealing directly to a large public, as well as shocking audiences into reassessing their own notions of art and its relation to culture. Conversely, public interest in the medium, especially in the 1980s, stems from an apparent desire of that public to gain access to the art world, to be a spectator of its ritual and its distinct community, and to be surprised by the unexpected, always unorthodox presentations that the artists devise.”

Among the performance art most discussed in the art-world of this decade were a performance by Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh between July 1983 and July 1984, Art/Life: One Year Performance (Rope Piece), and Karen Finlay’s I'm an Ass Man 1987.

Until the decline of the European eastern block during the late 1980s, performance art by most communist governments had actively been rejected. With the exception of Poland and Yugoslavia, performance art was more or less banned in countries where any independent public event was feared. In the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Latvia it happened in apartments, at seemingly spontaneous gatherings in artist studios, in church-controlled settings, or covered as another activity, like a photo-shooting. Isolated of the western conceptual context, in different settings it could be like a playful protest or like a bitter comment, using subversive metaphors to express dissent with the political situation.

Hedwig Gorski
Hedwig Gorski
Dr. Hedwig Gorski is an American performance poet and an avant-garde artist who labels her aesthetic as American Futurism...

 before 1982 came up up with the term performance poetry
Performance poetry
Performance poetry is poetry that is specifically composed for or during a performance before an audience. During the 1980s, the term came into popular usage to describe poetry written or composed for performance rather than print distribution.-History:...

, to distinguish her text-based vocal performances from performance art, especially the work of performance artists, such as Laurie Anderson, who worked with music at that time. Performance poets relied more on the rhetorical and philosophical expression in their poetics than performance artists, who arose from the visual art genres of painting and sculpture.

1990s


While the Soviet bloc disintegrated, formerly repressed activities of performance artists like György Galántai in Hungary, or the Collective Action Group in Russia, became better known. Young artists from all over the former Eastern bloc, including Russia, turned to performance. Performance art at about the same time appeared in Cuba, the Caribbean and China. Chinese performance artists like Zhang Huan
Zhang Huan
Zhang Huan is a Chinese artist based in Shanghai and New York. He made his BA at the He Nan University in Kai Feng and his MA at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing...

 had been performing underground since the late 1980s. Beginning of the 1990s chinese performance art already was acclaimed in the international artscene.

"In these contexts performance art became a critical new voice with a social force similar to that found in Western Europe, the United States and South America in the 1960s and early 1970s. It should be emphasized that the eruption of performance art in the 1990s in Eastern Europe, China, South Africa, Cuba, and elsewhere should never be considered either secondary to or imitative of the West."

In the western world in the 1990s, even sophisticated performance art became part of the cultural mainstream: performance art as a complete artform gained admittance into art museums and became a museal topic.

2000s


In the second half of the decade, computer-aided forms of performance art began to take place.

From March 14 to May 31, 2010, the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 held a major retrospective and performance recreation of Marina Abramović
Marina Abramovic
Marina Abramović is a Belgrade-born New York-based Serbian performance artist who began her career in the early 1970s. Active for over three decades, she has recently begun to describe herself as the “grandmother of performance art.” Abramović's work explores the relationship between performer and...

's work, the biggest exhibition of performance art in MoMA's history. During the run of the exhibition, Abramović performed "The Artist is Present," a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the museum's atrium, while spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her. A support group for the "sitters," "Sitting with Marina," was established on Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

. The performance attracted celebrities such as Björk
Björk
Björk Guðmundsdóttir , known as Björk , is an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Her eclectic musical style has achieved popular acknowledgement and popularity within many musical genres, such as rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical and folk...

 and James Franco
James Franco
James Edward Franco is an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author, painter, performance artist and instructor at New York University. He left college in order to pursue acting and started off his career by making guest appearances on television series in the 1990s...

 and received coverage on the internet including an essay by NYC-author Tao Lin
Tao Lin
Tao Lin is an American writer. He was born of Taiwanese parents and grew up on the East Coast of the USA.He is the author of two novels, Eeeee Eee Eeee and Richard Yates ; a novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel ; a short story collection, Bed ; and two poetry collections, you are a little...

.

See also

  • Classificatory disputes about art
    Classificatory disputes about art
    Art historians and philosophers of art have long had classificatory disputes about art regarding whether a particular cultural form or piece of work should be classified as art. Disputes about what does and does not count as art continue to occur today....

  • Danger music
    Danger music
    Danger music is an experimental form of avant-garde 20th and 21st century classical music. It is based on the concept that some pieces of music can or will harm either the listener or the performer...

  • Flash mob
    Flash mob
    A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression...

  • Noise music
    Noise music
    Noise music is a term used to describe varieties of avant-garde music and sound art that may use elements such as cacophony, dissonance, atonality, noise, indeterminacy, and repetition in their realization. Noise music can feature distortion, various types of acoustically or electronically...

  • New media art
    New media art
    New media art is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, Internet art, interactive art, computer robotics, and art as biotechnology...

  • Living statue
    Living statue
    The term living statue refers to a mime artist who poses like a statue or mannequin, usually with realistic statue-like makeup, sometimes for hours at a time....

  • List of performance artists
  • Survival Research Laboratories
    Survival Research Laboratories
    Survival Research Laboratories is a machine performance art group credited for pioneering the genre of large-scale machine performance. After about 30 years in San Francisco, California, SRL spent most of 2008 moving to Petaluma, California....


External links