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Transcript of Performance Art
Defining Performance Art
"[Art made] with movements, gestures, and sounds carried out before an audience, whose members may or may not participate in the performance." -Gardener's Art Through the Ages (2009)
A performance piece is defined by its relationships
The Artist and His Body
The Artist and the Machine
The Artist and Playing with Space
How the artist's relationships defines the work and its success
In any performance piece the artist creates a relationship, or sometimes multiple relationships, between the different parties apart of the piece and/or viewing the piece.
The artist and his or her body
The artist and machinery
The artist and space
The artist and his or hers subjects
The artist and his or her audience
Self Portrait as Fountain
Bruce Nauman, Whitney Museum of Art, NY, 1966-7
Nauman is displayed here using his own body to create a self portrait that references Duchamp's "Fountain". The imagery's playfulness also mirrors that of Duchamp's original piece, which was a urinal he renamed and called art. Therefore, Nauman uses his body to recreate a piece that was an inanimate object. The way he builds upon a historically iconic work through a depiction of self and use of his physical body makes the relationship between body and art one to appreciate due to its historical basis.
Los Angeles International Airport, CA, 1973
Speedway Ave, Venice, CA, 1973
Burden uses self inflicted danger for the sake of performance within these works. Although I do not find entertainment in self deprecation, Trans-fixed references the biblical idea of "stigmata," which is found in Bellini's "St. Francis in the Desert". Again, this is an example of how performance art has the ability to appeal to an audience due to the historical artwork in which it alludes to.
Reading Position for a Second Degree Sunburn
Dennis Oppenheim, 1970
Oppenheim uses his bodily appearance to create this humourous piece. I find this an enjoyable work; yet, one that lacks true artistic depth other than commenting on the vanity of humans and the obsession white people have over looking tan.
Ray uses his contorted body upon a plank to create a pure art form. The plank simply works as a tool to shape his body into performing this work. The simpleness of the work gives it a strong presence due to the way in which the multiple ways the body is morphed is the point of attraction. This piece also references an artwork by Richard Serra.
Charles Ray, 1973
Homage to New York
Jean Tinguely, MoMa, 1960
Although this performance art is made up of mechanical pieces and found objects, Tinguely is able to create a sense of being within the work due to the way in which a part of the performance is also the destruction of it. Therefore, this work's demolition gives it a humanizing factor of facing its own death. This makes the piece a successful representation of performance of which the viewer can connect to.
LA County Museum of Art, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, 2009
Burden's use of mechanics and power in his large scale pieces are impressive. However, the lack of being able to see the relationship between the artist and his work causes a disconnect that makes it hard to view them as performance art. Instead, it is as if we're watching toys being played with rather than artwork in motion.
Acconci uses his performance art to demonstrate the invasion of personal space. Through following strangers and moving closely towards them, as he or she moves away, it is clear Acconci is commentating on the obstruction of social comfort zones. Acconcis performance pieces prove to be a social experiment and study upon human reaction; therefore, his pieces are a success on exhibiting a social experience that can be examined by and educational towards his audience.
Chris Burden, 1972
While Acconci simply displays an invasion of others space through closeness, Burden takes his performance art to the next level by trying to kidnap his interviewer on live television. This performance fails to work as a social experiment due to the over-the-top situation. Instead, this piece invades ones personal safety due to its dramatic measurements. TV Hijack comes of as a call for attention, rather than an insightful example of performance art commentating on human interaction.
The Artist and His/Her Performers
The Artist's Interacts with the Audience
The Artist as the Sole Performer
Within this performance piece, Klein paints his models in Yves Klein blue paint during a black tie event where the models use their painted bodies to create prints. This work defies the ordinary expectations of what a black tie event typically entails and instead uses it as a setting to perform art which is also creating new art. The dynamic web of creating which Klein establishes in his piece offer an absolutely original performance piece of many layers that is admiring.
Yves Klein, France, 1960
Schneeman's famed piece is made up of nude performers and slabs of meat being rubbed all over them. The purpose of her piece is a comment upon the way in which women are often viewed as pieces of meat. This feminist themed performance brings attention to an issue and encourages the audience to change the way in which they have been programmed to think in unfair gender roles.
Carolee Schneeman, Judson Church, NY, 1964
How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare
I Like America and America Likes Me
Rene Block Gallery, NY, 1974
Both of these Beuy's performances involve his interaction with a wild animal. In his piece with a dead hare, Beuys is commentating on the human ability to have ideas and understand concepts through the way in which he attempts to teach the dead hare. Following that performance, Beuy's stepped foot in America only to interact with a coyote for three days in order to achieve having an isolated visit to the country, where all he associated with was the coyote. Although bizarre sounding Beuy's performances act as an insight on the complexities of the human mind in contrast to the pure thought processes driven by instinct in animals.
Tino Sehgal, The Guggenheim Museum, 2010
Made up of two dancers who act as a couple embracing one another, this performance art is meant to encourage its audience to reflect upon their own personal, intimate, lives. Sehgal is able to connect with his audience by creating a performance based on common human emotion; therefore, his piece achieves its goal.
This piece is one in which the audience is asked to participate by continually being asked "What is progress?" by performers of different ages as they walk up with stairs of the museum. Eventually, upon reaching the top, the performer of the eldest age states "This is progress". This work acts as a piece to encourage self reflection, similar to other works of Sehgal; however, this one connects the artist more closely with his audience as they are personally questioned, forcing the audience to take part and succeed in finding the answer within the performance.
The Artist is Present
Marina Abramovic, MoMA, NY, 2010
Tino Sehgal, The Guggenheim Museum, NY, 2010
Abramovic proves that performance art can be created using purely the body and gaze of an artist upon taking part in a piece where she spends 12 hours everyday sitting with audience members who wait in line to take part in her form of a staring contest. The ironic basis of the piece, it being a performance piece without involving any typical performance with movement make this piece highly unique and iconic. The power within her gaze is breathtaking enough.
Swinton's piece is completely original; yet, it is also a total bore. She simply just sleeps in a clear box as the audience looks in at her. Instead of being able to research the reasoning, themes, and/or points to this piece for the sake of finding interest in it, Swinton's attempt at performance art in a museum setting ends up becoming a topic of the tabloids instead of one of art. There is also a blatant sense of disconnect between the viewer and the artist causing this piece to be unenjoyable and unsuccessful at capturing anyone's attention for longer than a few minutes.
Tilda Swinton, MoMA, NY, 2013
Jay Z, NYC, 2013
Jay Z used a small art gallery in the city as the setting for his 6 hour long performance of "Picasso Baby," for the purpose of recreating a strong sense of intimacy between him and his audience that his typical, large, music venues lack. Essentially, it was the relationship between him performing and interacting with whichever member of the audience joined into his stage-like space, within the small room, that made this a piece of performance art, rather than just a concert. Jay Z was able to successfully transform his typical form of art in performing music into one of respectable performance art fit for a gallery because of the aspect of creating human connection emphasized throughout his piece.
Ultimately, performance art I find entertaining, enjoyable, and insightful are the pieces that involve human aspects as the focus, whether it be the awareness a person has over the motions of their personal body, the humanization of a machine, a study in invading the comfort zones of another, the use of human bodies to make statements through art, a performance that inspires the audience to reflect upon their own lives, the interaction an artist creates between the audience and the piece, or the pure intimacy between artist and audience. I feel that the performance artworks that touch upon human relationships between themselves, loved ones, fans, society, and/or sometimes even strangers prove to be the most intriguing due to the fact that humans are often the subjects of them. The most successful examples of performance art are those that create a deeper connection between artist and audience, where the audience can both relate to and be enlightened by a piece.