Week 1 Assignment Post

For class next week, you should have read pages 7-49 in the Goldberg book and the Jon Erickson article, Performing Distinctions (see post below – Jan. 29 – for link). You also should have created a del.icio.us page, added 4 links to your del.icio.us, created a Flickr site, and registered a Word Press account so that you can post here on this blog in the future. Remember to email me your del.icio.us URL, your Flickr URL, and the email address you used to join Word Press (even if it is the same email you already gave me–just so I will know and add you as a contributor).

You now need to post at least two thoughtful comments here (click on the “comments” link at the bottom of this entry) based on the readings. Comments should be at least 50 words each. If you want to take me up on the extra credit options, those should be posted as entries instead of comments. You can do this by clicking on “New Post” in the upper left hand corner of the blog front page when you are signed in to Word Press with your user name.

Here are some considerations (although you can introduce your own topic from the reading or respond to a comment from your peers instead):

  • From your reading of the text and the implications and assumptions of the texts, propose a qualified definition of “performance art” (“qualified” meaning that we agree from the outset that an actual or binding definition is at least problematic, if not impossible).
  • How does Erickson’s perspective and critique of Goldberg color your reading of her text? And what if I told you that RoseLee wears leather pants? In what way does that information affect your processing of her claims?
  • How does this version of brief histories of Futurists and Constructivists differ from what you have learned about these artists/movements previously? Why might that be so? If you had never before heard of these art movements, how does this introduction fit into your current understanding of contemporary performance art?


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25 responses to “Week 1 Assignment Post

  1. In this article the definition of performance was discussed as a form of theater of the avant garde form, but the people at this conference had a hard time trying to discover a distinction between performance art and what they considered to be “live art”. The overall perspective and critique of the article actaully made it easier for me to read, as for the leather pants, well i think it takes a really open and free-spirited type of artist to pull off leather pants. it put things in perspective as to how far back performance art goes back and how much it effected the people during those time periods. also that these artists opened the doors for all of the future artists that would come after them. this article basically heightened my overall understanding of the comtemporary art world.

  2. ladywood

    In the readings from the book, I found it interesting how on page 40 they talked about a dance performance that was highly criticized and it got me thinking about if dance should be considered a part of performance art. I believe performance art is in a category of its own because it is usually something completely out of the ordinary or common that doesn’t have a defined place in art, such as Freddy Prince Jr. playing with a hackey-sack and talking to himself. Yet, dance stands alone in its own category, and when we attend a dance performance we know what to expect. However, we still see performance art incorporated into dance, and dance into performance art, so there is that happy medium of both arts. I believe that yes, dance should be allowed in performance art because it is an expression of ones’ soul, as art is and should be.

  3. cleasure

    The problem of documenting performance art that was addressed in the Erickson article was very interesting to me because it is an issue that had not been considered in my previous studies of the subject. I believe what Erickson said to be true, that photographs of performance could be considered art in and of themselves. The problem with these photos being viewed in this manner is that if they are to serve as a form of documentation, they need to be considered with a knowledge of the subject that they capture. Even a truly great photo is only going to capture part of what a performance is trying to convey; it could not possibly capture every element.

  4. cleasure

    I began reading Erickson’s article having just read the assignment from Goldberg’s book. I found that it did not really affect the way I viewed Goldberg’s writing or the amount of credibility I felt she had on the subject. Given that Erickson was reviewing a coffee table book that Goldberg had written, the textbook and the book that he was criticizing remained separate in my mind. I suppose if I had known she wore leather pants and actively considered this idea while I was reading, it might affect my opinion of her. In general, unless I have a mental image of an author, they are very separate in my mind from their writing.

  5. desibrink

    Having never known much about Futurism and Constructivism, I have been more or less introduced to the concepts through the readings. Art, at least in one term I view it, is about evoking emotions and responses from the viewer. The fact that these terms challenged traditional art doesn’t surprise me, as getting a reaction to the movement is what helps make it spread. Hearing about some of the Futurist performances expanded my knowledge of what performance art is, such as Mayakovsky’s ‘Victory Over the Sun’ where he got the student involvement while reading his poetry.

  6. thehankfuldread

    when i started to read the goldberg book, i had no idea what to expect. i have never studied any performance art, and really subscribed to the definition that the media portrays. woops. the most surprising aspect to me is just how radical, these artists were. it sounds as if it really came down to upsetting people, making them be completely uncomfortable, and making them dislike the performance, and the performers as much as possible. that is a very bold move, when it comes to trying to be “successful,” (which in this case i think means to have people keep coming to see your shows and art, not the financial aspect of success) because, why would anyone go, if it always got terrible reviews, and people hated it? especially considering the mindset of the people at the time, very much including their views on art.

  7. bLiSs

    I had never before learned about the art movements that the book covered, and as I read I found myself being amazed yet confused and perplexed about these movements. I began making questions such as “Who would think of this as being art?”, “How could somebody come up with these ideas?”, and “What is the point of this type of ‘performance art’?” To answer my last question, I think that the artists wanted to make their audience uncomfortable in order to get them to think and to experience art in a whole different level. The fact that they preferred to be “booed” at, rather than be applauded, shows their fervent desire to pull people out of their comfort zones and show them something completely different. Although many of us prefer staying in our area of comfort, if it wasn’t for art like this, or experiences that are out of the ordinary, would we get much out of life?

  8. thehankfuldread

    the erickson article was a critical one for sure, but raised significant points about the goldberg book. it makes the book even more valuble, like erickson says, when it raises questions, instead of making the reader nod to, and agree on everything. i feel that erickson brings up crucial criticism in the way that goldberg views the use of documentation, and how that affects the art itself, and in essence changes it completely. coming from a music background, it is the same with documentation. one becomes completely removed from the actual process of the art, and focuses only on the product. so, hearing a really well done record, and then seeing that band live, will be two completely different versions of the same story. this is especially true in performance art, where one of the goals is to expose the “middle” and not just focus on the product.

  9. ladywood

    In the article on Jstor I was very interested in the coffee table book he, Erikson, critiqued. Oftentimes, coffee table books are just what he said they were: books that sit there and are never read. But, I do enjoy reading them, or at least looking at the pictures, and something he touched on got me thinking. He mentioned how the author had not included a large amount of detail on each piece represented. I had found this to be true of a lot of art books. A beautiful piece will be shown with nothing but the artist’s name and the title. This irritates me because I want to learn about the piece! What media is it in, when was it painted, what inspired the artists, where did they come from and when did they live? I would love to learn about the symbolism in each piece and why it was painted, or photographed, or written. I agree with Erikson that more information should be included. I remember seeing a coffee table book on ice skating with nothing but pictures and it irritated me beyond reality. Later, I saw a book on Star Wars with all the information us nerds could desire, complete with diagrams and pictures. Coffee table books should be like that!

  10. Isaiah

    I like the idea that performance art is resisting documentation. the non-conformity is a part of the art form where as the history of art is rooted in conformity and style. the idea and the idea that is sparked in the viewers mind is more important than the overall documentation. however, this can be pushed all the way to one extreme and the idea of not performing could be the performance. along the lines of everything is something even nothing.

  11. heidirides

    This brief history of futurism and constructivism has been illuminating. Previously, I had no understanding of futurism outside of its application as a theory that influenced painting. I knew of the theories and manifestos, and some of the painters associated with the movement, but I didn’t realize that the theories had influence outside of painting. However, now it seems obvious to me that such a passionate world view would encompass more than just painting. Regarding current contemporary performance art, the methods do not seem to have changed so much. Performance art is still a means of “disrupting a complacent public.”

  12. proverbs3v18

    I head read the Erickson article first. I did not look at this as a book review but rather a small peek into the world of performance art. My focus became the descriptions of the artists and the works portrayed in the book rather than Erickson’s critique of them. Certainly another’s opinion is valuable, but I would rather form my own first without being so influenced by him or her.

    I do think his point about defining performance art is significant – but not just to this specific genre of art. The entire art-world in general is like a giant flux of creativity and ideas with people in “distinct” camps that still shift and meld together or apart. I think this ambiguity is good because it allows new ideas, radical and conservative, to exist (and to coalesce at times). From there, new growth in multiple directions is possible – instead of a stifling single-mindedness.

    What I am surprised about however, is that performance art has been practiced for years now (referring to Goldberg historical references), and Erickson and his colleagues could not come up with any solid definition.

  13. heidirides

    Erickson seems to cast Goldberg’s book rather negatively. His view of the book, despite his brief attempt at reconciliation in the last paragraph, is decidedly one of contempt. The affect his view has on my interpretation of the text is one of caution. I ought not to rely on this book as an all inclusive authority on performance art, rather it is a biased overview of performance art. In the end aren’t all books at least a little biased? Erickson seems to be critiquing Goldberg’s choices of inclusion and exclusion of artists, this does not seem to be an attack on her personally. He did not discredit her qualifications as a writer of performance art. As with any book, the contents, selections, and exclusions must to some degree be subjective. Regarding her fashion sense, is the leather embroidered?

  14. proverbs3v18

    The Goldberg chapters were hard for me to read at times. What I managed to glean from them however, I think is important. bLiSs is correct about the art getting people to think – but stop there – TO THINK. Certainly to think about art is nice, but just to get people TO THINK is quite a feat in itself. Such a concept suddenly made me see that performance art does have some value- to me specifically. From this I now have a wonderful idea for an individual project I would like to do for this class. Aha – it makes me smile with an evil eye.

  15. kait

    Understanding and defining performance art seems to be a near impossibility due to its very odd subject nature. It seems as though any thing can be named performance art. Erickson seemed to believe it was defined by being a theatrical production or performed in theatre, live. Unfortunately, Erickson himself could not set terms, borders, or a set definition on what performance art really was. I personally believe that it can be and expression of a thought, in an artistic manner, through the use of any medium. But this definition again seems to leave all windows and doors open to any kind of interpretation as to what performance art really is.

  16. kait

    In response to ladywoods understanding of dance and whether or not it should be categorized as performance art I would have to disagree, to an extent. I understand to misconstruing of dance in its artistic intended nature, on pg.40. I also agree. Dance is a taught and studied classical form of expression through distinct movements that are studied and then recreated on stage. I think that dance can evolve into performance art by taking the set motion and altering them into a personal expression, being without the defined movements. But in its purest original form dance is not a performance art.

  17. trinityblk

    With regards to the Erickson article I would say it does put a bias into my mind for the Goldberg readings. The small notes that our teacher made added another “bias” to my reading. On the flip side I believe that all topics and aspects of life are open to dicussion and critique. How else can people defend their ideas or “art” tot he rest of the wolrd and get their voice heard? People do not have to agree or “like” someone else’s creation but by challeging someone else’s creation the creation has a deeper impact.

    It is no surprise to me that Erickson’s group of artists were not able to define “performance art”. It is the same as trying to strictly define the term “music”. The topic is too subjective and obscure. What is performance art? It is purely for shock value? Political/social awarness? Expressing oneself? or to to investigate the larger questions in life. All of these possibilities are sucject to an individual’s own definition of these terms. How then can we come to a wholy encompassing definition?

  18. trinityblk

    I agree with proverbs3v18 entry about reading Goldberg. Since my understanding of this art is only the social stigmas portrayed in the media I do not feel connected with her writing . It will take me a bit of study to fully understand the points she is trying to relay. I think that our projects will allow me to get a glimpse of what performance art feels like and maybe then I will be able to appriciated Goldberg, Erickson and others better.

  19. cmndrkeen

    It was really interesting to read about Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, though it was only mentioned briefly. Just a few weeks ago, Theatre d’Art (run by Jon Margheim, Brian Mann, TK, and people down in the Osbourne in U Hall) put on a more modern version called just “Ubu.” Jon found a translated version and then made it politically appropriate for this day in age, adding other twists of his own. I thought that the cardboard set was his twist also, but I was surprised to read that Alfred Jarry originally had a set made of cardboard as well.

    In Theatre d’Art’s version, they had an actor playing Jarry himself to introduce the play and scene changes. It was really cool. I hope some of ya’ll saw it.

  20. cmndrkeen

    Here is my attempt at defining performance art. Performance art is a one time only thing. It can be recreated but that is not the same as the original. It can be documented but that is not the same as actually participating in the experience.

    Perhaps it would be easier to define it in terms of what it is not.
    Performance art is not Theatre, though it shares some of the same elements.
    Performance art is not music, though music may be included.
    Performance art is not dance, though some of those elements are included as well…

    That isn’t working quite as well as I thought.

    One imortant thing though, is that performance art is concept based. Rather than being completely focused on the aesthetic, such as other forms of art like painting can be, there is always something behind the art. Even if the “something” is perhaps absolutely nothing.

    This is hard.

  21. Cheri Soulia

    I definitely think the pages in the Goldberg book were difficult to read. I truthfully wanted to fall asleep. I found Jon Erickson’s analysis of Golberg’s book much more interesting and easier to understand. For one, it was much shorter.
    I checked up on Erickson’s credentials because I wanted to make sure what he was saying was valid. From what I found, I would say he is a very passionate individual about performance art and has studied it for many years. He has also written many books and other critical essays. The one thing I thought about a lot was this quote, “A more considered look at the texts, photographs, film stills and all other leftovers of a performance, seems to contradict the very reasons for making live art in the first place- which was, in part, to protest traditional art’s focus on object-making and marketing” (63). This is so ironic to the purpose of performance art. Performance art is supposed to be a performance but the artist realizes that as soon as there is no documentation of the event, it’s like it didn’t even happen. So, you begin to wonder if performance art is even a “performance”. The reason being, it is remembered through other forms of art such as photography. It is ironic because even though it is try to protest traditional art, it is bound to it at the same time. Kind of like a Catch-22. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

  22. kkomaenge

    I thought performace is only movement art. I never thoguth about the other way also, performance is dfferent than art ( performance is not the art performance is just performance). Moreover, most performances are documentation. So it takes more time. Movement art is really interesting, working with the audiences i wonder how artist feel about when the they work movement art?

  23. Heather Berryman

    The TV video bites–of certain writers’ and producers’ opinions of what performance art is–were pretty much what I had originally thought as well. It’s logical that this is where my opinion had been formed, over many years, especially as I was raised in rural Kansas, and I had no “other” exposure to performance art or its definition. It’s sad that kids are absorbing such tripe, but at least, with a course such as this, one can unlearn things and learn anew. I guess the problem is that one never knows what tripe he/she has absorbed until he/she TAKES a course like this or is otherwise confronted or challenged for his/her opinions later in life.

  24. Heather Berryman

    The “blindfold exercise” was very interesting. I thought that I would just go very slowly and not too far and would find my way easily. This was not the case.

    I didn’t care too much what other people in the hallways thought because I knew that other blindfolded students were around. What I did stress over was when I feared entering a different classroom (several were open, and I had not even counted doors on my way).

    This is when I began wondering if the assignment purpose was possibly to desensitize me of, or make me aware of, my insecurities of being “out there” and “expressing myself.” I began to try to rehearse defensive statements in my head, in case I would be ridiculed. (funny) I couldn’t really think of anything.

    I considered quitting and peeking, but I made it back without cheating and was proud of myself.

  25. kkomaenge

    This book is hard to understand to me. I had a hard time understanding performance art and I am still confused about it but performance art may unify artist with audience. Every art can be performance art if that includes part of our lives or nature.

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