7 topical performance art stories – ARTnews.com


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Performative is one of those terms from the art world which, like organized, have migrated into general use, promiscuously diluting its meaning in the process. As a descriptor, it has permeated virtually every facet of contemporary society, certainly politics and business, as well as the broader vectors of culture. But in a way, this makes perfect sense: performance art, once a radical genre that broke the experiential barrier between art and real life, has arguably become a model for a world ruled by Google. , Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp – further promoting its own rise as a global phenomenon. All of this, of course, was hardly imaginable for the early practitioners of the form, who saw it as a path to aesthetic liberation. The history of the genre as it has developed to the present day is fascinating reading. Find out more in our list of the best performance art books. (Price and availability in effect at the time of publication.)

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1. RoseLee Goldberg, Performance art: from futurism to the present
Until RoseLee Goldberg published this seminal story on the subject in 1979, performance art was generally associated with the conceptualism of the 1960s and 1970s and the radical effort to ‘dematerialize’ the object of art, releasing so to speak the genius that was the idea behind the artwork from the bottle that was the artwork itself. In performance art, it meant taking action instead of creating something concrete. Setting the record straight, Goldberg’s book goes back to the roots of 20th-century performance art in Dadaism, Italian Futurism, the early Russian avant-garde and the stage workshop of the legendary Bauhaus. The 1979 edition covered the key figures of the movement until then: Laurie Anderson, Robert Wilson, Marina Abramovi ?, Gilbert & George, Piero Manzoni and John Cage. A 2011 update added the revival of performance art (best represented, perhaps, by the work of Matthew Barney) that followed the collapse of the ’80s art boom.
Purchase: Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present $ 22.95 (new) on Amazon

2. Catherine Bois, Performance in contemporary art
Much like RoseLee Goldberg, Catherine Wood was instrumental in institutionalizing performance art through her position as Senior Curator of International Art (Performance) at Tate Modern in London, overseeing, for example, the museum’s annual BMW Tate Live series (the corporate prefix for which is highly indicative of the transformation of performance art into mainstream entertainment). Wood’s book presents his claim that rather than operating as a separate medium, performance is an attitude that informs all approaches to contemporary art, whether expressed through individual or collective actions or through performance. manufacture of objects. After setting out her case with examples from the present (including artistic endeavors from Latin America, Asia, and Africa), she turns to the past to find historical antecedents of art in the work of actionists. Viennese (whose shattered stays in abjection involved the use of animal carcasses, blood, bodily fluids and self-harm), Chris Burden, Yoko Ono and the Japanese group Gutai.
To buy: Performance in contemporary art $ 200.00 (used) on Ebay

3. Michael Kirby, Events
Originally published in 1965, Events delves into the history of a collaborative movement that flourished only briefly, from 1959 to 1962, but was an important forerunner in the art of performance. Its members included Jim Dine, Red Grooms, Allan Kaprow, Claes Oldenburg, and Robert Whitman, all of whom were visual artists (Dine, Grooms, and Oldenburg, for example, would become associated with Pop art). It was Kaprow who played the key role in promoting fitness. Although sometimes linked to avant-garde theater, the Happenings were non-verbal and closer to visual collage than theater in the way they presented compartmentalized actions, each with its own staging, which played out in spaces. found. They were essentially performative manifestations of André Breton’s description of surrealist aesthetics as “a chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table”. Using photographs and interviews with artists, author Michael Kirby documents 13 Happenings that embody the genre.
To buy: Events from $ 6.26 (used) on AbeBooks

4. C. Carr, On Edge: performance at the end of the twentieth century
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a new generation of artists fully raised in television and other mass media took control of the art world of downtown New York. Some of them revived painting (and with it a boom in the art market), but others continued to do performance art, although very differently from what was done in the art market. pass. Performers from theater and dance have entered the field and borrowing from pop culture has transformed the genre. Alternative nonprofit spaces have institutionalized the practice, which has also spread to places such as clubs, particularly in New York’s East Village. Cynthia Carr, critic of the Voice of the village who wrote under the signature C. Carr, covered the scene at the time, and this compilation of his reviews presents a first draft of a historical perspective on a dynamic era, which also marked the beginnings of New York’s decline as that undisputed art capital of the world.
Purchase: On Edge $ 32.95 (new) on Amazon

5. Peggy Phelan, Live Art in LA: Performance in Southern California, 1970-1983
This volume on “Living Art” – a name intended to reframe the art of performance and the more static practice of body art as a shared discipline – is both a chronicle of the subject as it stands. ‘is developed in the City of Angels and a meditation on the inherent difficulties. to write the story of a deliberately evanescent medium. Reenactments of landmark performances as if they were theatrical productions are particularly delicate in this regard, obscuring a crucial distinction between performance art and theater. Yet living art, as the author defines it, has been documented for posterity through photographs and videos – material drawn here to tell the story of Los Angeles’ role in shaping form and that of the key figures who made it possible. These include Chris Burden, Judy Chicago, the founders of the Feminist Art Program at Cal Arts, and collectives like the Chicano group Asco and the black arts movement (which included David Hammons among its members).
Purchase: Live Art in LA $ 19.95 (new) on Amazon

6. Dominique Johnson, The art of living: an oral history of the art of performance
In his book, Johnson, a senior lecturer in the Drama Department at Queen Mary University in London, interviews 12 performance artists who share a predilection for challenging the line between art and life, mainly by transforming themselves into a kind of container for their work. . Their tactics vary and include endurance tests lasting several hours or even days; permanent body changes through plastic surgery; and the assumption of a character both on and off the stage. The subjects make up a roster of key figures from the past 40 years, including the Kipper Kids, Breyer P-Orridge, Ann Magnuson and Joey Arias, with each interview prefaced by a look at the artist’s work.
Purchase: The Art of Living $ 35.95 (new) on Amazon

7. RoseLee Goldberg, Performance Now: Living Art for the 21st Century
Although Goldberg updated his previous book to expand the history of performance art in the early 21st century, this volume takes a separate look at the genre over the next 18 years, when form took hold. spread globally and crept into popular culture. These developments were aided by Goldberg herself in 2004, when she founded Performa, the first international biennial devoted exclusively to the art of performance. Performance nowThe titles of the chapters of, such as “Global Citizenship: Performance as a Global Language”, “Radical Action: On Performance and Politics” and “Dance After Choreography” —reflect the different permutations made by the art of performance in form and content, which Goldberg exemplifies through the work of Tania Bruguera, Guy Ben-Ner, and Hasan and Husain Essop, among others.
Purchase: Performance Now $ 34.54 (new) on Amazon


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