Week 4 Assignment Post

Please post at least two thoughtful comments on the readings for this week: pages 152-226 in the Goldberg book; Performance Art: (Some) Theory and (Selected) Practice at the End of This Century by Martha Wilson (JSTOR); and section one in the library reserve binder, chapter 5 in Performance: A Critical Introduction by Marvin Carlson.
Here are some considerations:
  • After the descriptions of performance art as a genre in these two readings (and almost one month in class), locate/delineate your understanding of the nature of performance art.
  • How do the discussions in these readings of some of the artists you are already familiar with clarify, expand, or change your understanding of these artists’ works?
  • For those of you with a background in theatre, respond to references to theatre as the antecedent and discussions of theatre’s relationship to performance art.
  • Select an artist from the Goldberg section and do some independent research on them. Post what you discover.

Remember your del.icio.us posts as well for this week. In class we will first complete the two performances from this past week, and then we will hopefully jaunt over to the dance studio for some exercises.



Filed under Assignment Post, Readings

30 responses to “Week 4 Assignment Post

  1. ladywood

    My definition of Performance Art is a combination of all arts, painting, poetry, drama, dance, sculpture or drawing all tied together in a way that does not just show off the work, but show it off in a performing way, making in into a new art. It is a way of expressing the artists’ self to create something beautiful or thought provoking, such as Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece or Klein’s IKB body prints. It is an expression of art created by the body, and that, most definitely, is artistic.

  2. cleasure

    After doing some extra research on Dennis Oppenheim who was noted as one of the body artists, I found that his career went far beyond the body art movement into installations in the early 90s. After his works that were mentioned in Goldberg, he moved into machineworks where he built incredibly complex “factories,” which were machine-like and sculptural. After his machine art, he moved into public art in the form of sculpture. One of his pieces, entitled “Diamond Ring,” is in front of the Flatiron building in New York. While he seems most noted for his body art, his career was quite varied and experimental.

  3. cleasure

    Performance art, as I understand, seeks to make some kind of statement whether it be social, political, personal, etc, but it often takes an approach that does not fall under the specific categories of theatre or visual art. Often it will engage an audience in a thought provoking situation or will create a learning experience for the artists themselves. In studying the history of performance art, an apparent trend throughout its history has been the goal of the artist to push the limits. It has been about breaking boundaries in the accepted social behavior (ie. The Women’s rights movement), pushing the body to its absolute limits, and consistently redeveloping the definition of art itself.

  4. Heather Berryman

    In the online journal “Senses of Cinema,” philosophy professor Dan Shaw writes, “As an expressionist with a fascination for Pavlovian reflexology, Eisenstein’s greatest formal innovations stemmed from his experiments in montage and its relationship to biomechanics. He tried various editing patterns, discovering that, for example, film cut metrically to the beat of a typical heart has a profound impact on us precisely because it mirrors our biorhythms. (http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/04/eisenstein.html)

    Now that I know from reading Goldberg that Eisenstein was a frequent contributor and participant in Dadaist performance, the facts in this excerpt make perfect sense to me.

    Eisenstein, either through discovery of or further research into “body” art (performance art), definitely solidified theories pertaining to not only performance but also to mental/psychological connections in film, such as in montage editing. I am beginning to see how his montage successes possibly came out of his Dadaist work.

  5. Heather Berryman

    I definitely have an even better understanding of what performance art is now…but I still am struggling to put this into words, at least into a definition. Descriptions of pieces that I believe to be performance art (as well as those I believe are not) are more easily relayed. In this regard, I agree with Jon Erickson, and I wish that I could know WHAT he and his friends said and argued that one night together. I may have an even better understanding.

  6. ladywood

    I think there is a lot of theater in performance art, because in both genres you ‘perform’. In both genres you have an audience, a stage, possibly lines learned, movements rehearsed, and perhaps props. In some performance art pieces you improvise, move with the feelings of the piece or audience, but we do the same thing in theater. I think they are very much connected, yet in some aspects different. They are considered to be two different genres, and should be seen as such.

  7. thehankfuldread

    i have begun to think that performance art is anything. any combination of the arts, and political commentary, installations, anything. call it performance art and it is. if you can back it up, with a half way decent explanation of why you believe it is performance art, then… vuala!! performance art it is. it is the same with all of the arts, i think. there are a lot of composers that if you heard the music out of context, you would not even begin to think that it was meant to be that way, or that someone thought it out, and planned it all to sound that way. it is noise. but, if you, the listener, wants what you are hearing to be music, it is. music is as the listener defines. and art is what the audience defines. but, conversely, music is what the musician defines. and in the vortex of art theory, these both stand true at the same time.

  8. thehankfuldread

    after i researched a little on dennis oppenheim, i found that he is a remarkable sculptor. i found little on his performances, except for the performances that he has done with various people (one including his daughter), where he has someone draw on his back, and he tries to replicate that drawing in front of him. he says in a caption on the photo of the performance of when his daughter was included,

    “Because Chandra is my offspring and we share similar biological ingredients, my back (as surface) can be seen as a mature version of her own … in a sense, she makes a contact with a future state.”

    wow. his sculpture is amazing though…

  9. desibrink

    I understand Performance art as an evocative and engaging performance that performance artists do to challenge people’s thinking or for symbolic reasons. There are not a whole lot of restrictions on how or what someone can do to accomplish their goal of performing, people can use props or any other form of art.

  10. desibrink

    Laurie Anderson does a lot of multimedia presentations. She has achived performances as a visual artist, composer, vocalist, poet, photographer, electronics whiz, filmmaker, and instrumentalist.
    She has published six books and her visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe and is recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts.


  11. molly

    I think the English Theater group “Welfare State” defined the intentions of performance art the best, so far as I’ve learned: “To fuse boundaries between painting, sculpture theater, music and events. To analyse the relationship between aesthetic input and its social context. To explore non-naturalistic and visual performance styles.” Even if it was their own personal intentions as an art group, it runs true for most work considered “performance art”.

  12. molly

    While reading the article by Carlson, the name Eleanor Antin rang a bell although I was not immediately sure why. I then remembered looking at some of her work in Professor Auther’s contemporary art history class, specifically her”100 Boots” project and her photo series “Carving: a Traditional sculpture” where she photographed herself everyday while fasting. I did a little research and looked at a clip of her black ballerina, Eleanora Antinova, on the “Art 21” site which cleared a lot of misconseptions of that work for me. I was happy to learn she is completely motivated by narrative and story telling which, to me, adds to the clarity of her performances.

  13. heidirides

    Performance Art, as I see it, is an experimental art meant to induce strong emotion. However, every event that evokes strong emotions is not a work of performance art. Only the artist can designate her or his action as a work of performance art. Often performance art is interdisciplinary, provocative and extends beyond any traditional boundaries of art, aesthetics, and etiquette.

  14. heidirides

    Pina Bausch is a controversial German Choreographer. But what innovator of a new approach hasn’t been controversial at one time or another. Her plays have been categorized as “angst theater”, depressing, full of self indulgent ramblings and meaningless pretention. On the other side, she is said to provide an environment full of emotional complexity dotted with humor. She also seems to be able to insert humor on occasion, and the images of her works are bizarre and curious. In any case, it’s newer and different, and if it promotes dialogue or self-reflection, than it can’t be all bad.

  15. kait

    My first impressions of performance art were based on ignorance. Now that I have learned, watched, and performed I feel as though I have a better more educated understanding. I actually appreciated performance art now due to complexity and difficulty of portraying the intended message. I now understand an artist frustration with misinterpretation from an audience and the amount of time and thought and energy is put into the idea. To me performance art is passion of a moral belief or ethic that an artist tries to portray visually. It can be beautiful or not, talented or not, but whether the intended ideal is correctly portrayed and received it is a successful performance piece.

  16. kait

    Theater is rehearsing, memorization, character understanding, and nearly a mimicking of another person other than your own. It can portray moral beliefs and ethics but usually not from the person performing, on a personal basis. On the contrary performance art is personal convictions stated visually, it seems as though some acting is involved but usually for dramatic emphasis on the meaning of the performance. It is also much deeper on a personal level because in performance art you are usually watching the creator of the piece perform the piece himself or herself as opposed to watching paid actors interpret what the creator originally intended.

  17. Isaiah D

    Performance art for me has changed in this class because these readings have given me a broader view of the ideas and hopes of change that the artists is trying to get across. Before the class I had relied mostly on stereotypes to define performance art. Now, I see that the late sixties had a huge impact on the way art was viewed and ridiculed. That is when perf. artists were able to come into the spotlight and throw a whole new spin on art.

  18. proverbs3v18

    Theankfuldread is on some level correct; much of “art” is subjective in this way – but then, how does one evaluate an artwork when there are no set principles to guide us? Do we simply accept anything as art, and then judge its merits by suddenly applying the various developed standards and categories of art to the work? Or do we not question this new work that has no boundaries, because to define it would be to destroy the freedom of its essence? Can we apply existing methods of critique to a work that does not adhere to or fit those contexts applied?

  19. proverbs3v18

    Something that I cannot quite figure out is why I am having troubles finding works like masturbating in public or under ramped entrances to museums as art as opposed to something like the Butoh group who are at times nude as well. Could it be perhaps the meaning of such an action? The Butohs use rigorous physical discipline in their performance whilst the others are simply performing an action that lacks such disciplined effort. On some level, I suppose it is difficult to masturbate in public (I think that takes a lot of courage…) but the action itself is not some honed skill or idea to me. Anyone feel free to respond – a discussion would be helpful. Thoughts, anyone?

  20. Isaiah D

    I also enjoy the political and social commentary that is being made with performance art. This is a theme that is still presumably going strong today, as I don’t know of any current artwork in the performance genre lets just assume that it is. Hannah Wilke’s poster “Beware of fascist feminism” is such a juxtaposition of not wanting to be classified as just a woman but using the “sex sells” approach of her naked breasts to draw the viewer in.

  21. Trinityblk

    The nature of Performance Art to me is a means of explaining a passion. It dosen’t have to be be political or “art” driven, but sometype of passion. Stephen Covey (Creator of the Franklin Covey planners) has a saying that I think fits in real well in the relm of Performance Art; ” Find your voice”. The voice is not defined and is encouraged to be declared. From all that we have read Performance Art seems to have emerged at a time when the wolrd had a lot to say and the art world was in a place to offer a medium for the world. I agree with others that Performance Art could be anything. Office pranks (AKA sticking it to the man) could be a version of Performance Art.

  22. Trinityblk

    As a theatre student I find it hard to consider Performance Art oustide of the relm of Theatre. To me the term Theatre (Theater) is all encompassing. I see dance, “acting”, music and all aspects of art located in a performance space as “Theatre”. I consider myself a well rounded theatre person and thus have taken just about everything under the sun. So, it is hard for me to separate the different elements such as music, dance, “theatre”, Performance Art and others as separate.

  23. cmndrkeen

    First of all I’s like to comment on some of the Actionist’s work. It scared me a little to read about them. I mean, a woman covers herself in animal blood and intestines, wraps herself and all that up in cellophane and lays on a table soaking in that grossness? Or other ritualistic stuff, like in that picture where there was a man hanging upside down as if being crucified, and animal blood was poured on him. I don’t see much more than shock value in these things.

    Another that scared me a lot was the reference to Marina Abromovic’s one, I forgot the title, where she let the audience torture her with instruments she had laid out for them. I understand the message. She was bringing out the animalsitic and violent qualities that all humans have and causing us to focus on them and theie effects. But I see no need. I don’t know. Maybe it was a good thing for her to draw attention to those tendencies in humans so that we can think about them, but it scares me.

  24. cmndrkeen

    I’ve been reading a book about the sixties called “the Sixties: the Decade of Tumult and Change, and ran across Yoko Ono several times. It was interesting to read about her in our textbook as well as my book outside of class, and read about the exact same artworks in both.

    Her piece that stood out most in my mind is “Cut peice.” Almost like Abromovic’s piece I mentioned above, Ono invites the audience to participate. Instead of instruments of torture, however, the only props are pairs of scissors that the audience may use to cut off her clothing.

    It was interesting to note that when she performed this in Tokyo, the audience members where shy and more resistant to doing this unusual act that she asked of them, whereas in London the participating audience became so zealous that she had to resort to protection from security officers.

  25. Cheri Soulia

    I think everybody has their own idea of what performance art is including Goldberg. I would have to agree with ladywood that I have my own definition. Of course, whether or not I will be anle ot describe it in words is another story. So I’ll try. It is an performance…it could be theatre or dance or it could be you out in the middle of the forest singing to no one. I also think it does not matter if you have an audience or not…if you don’t, it’s still a performance but an undocumented one.

  26. Cheri Soulia

    I am not a theatre major but I did take a class in high school. Theatre I think is a big influence on performance art because performance art uses a lot of aspects from theatre such as the stage. The action and body movement is also very reminiscent of theatre. However, taking performance art outside of the theatre is how performance art has expanded in the recent years.

  27. heidirides

    Proverbs3v18, I do not think critics or academia or artists in general accept just anything as art. For something to be art the creator of that work must have some intention beyond merely the formal elements. This is why a child’s splash of paint is considered differently than Pollock’s splash of paint. Similarily, tagging carried out by members of a gang is not art, whereas tagging of a museum by ASCO is. Also, I do not find it difficult to masterbate in public.

  28. elpetty84

    After all of the assigned readings, the short films and this reading my whole idea of what performance art is has completely changed. i always thought it was just theater, it is actually a complilation of all forms of art thrown into one. i learned that one form of art cannot function without the other. The only artists that i knew off were ones that i only knew by name, or by a specific painting. After doing the readings i have a nre fouund respect for those artists that have shaped performance art in their own special way during their own time periods , there were a few artists names that i recognized while doing the readings; Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings. I learned that Hugo Ball was raised in a Cathloic family, moved to Berlin to become an actor and was a well known German author, poet during the time of Dadaism.

  29. kkomaenge

    Performance art is I still confusing to me. However, I think performance art is a very open art. It might relate with social problems, personal, and real art (painting, dancing, music, etc), but it shows people’s work process. The audience can see how artists work.

  30. kkomaenge

    For the reading I never heard about most artists in the book. However, I understand their art as art because in Korea most people dislike working with body (strip). They are hard to understand, but when I read the book it makes clearer to understand how people use the body and relate with their work.

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