APH 565: Performance Art
Additional Course Description:
Performance art is not only the oldest form of art but perhaps the origin of all arts. Since the beginning of times, needed to express their feelings, fears, admiration and joy. Before the appearance of language, writing, and visual art this has been
happening predominantly through actions – gesture, cry, change of facial expression. Besides the need for individual communication people have been expressing themselves collectively – they have been experienced catharsis through certain rituals. Those have been actions of togetherness that helped them build their cultures. If we read the history of art, we can see that every art genre had started from some sort of an action, some sort of “performance.” Being the source of everything, performance art has been always an essential part of the arts over the centuries.
However, it has been defined as a separate genre quite late–around the 1950s. Live actions had accompanied the activities of almost all modernist movements from the beginning of the 20th century – such as Futurists, Dadaists, Surrealists and others. These actions were consciously defined as artistic ones by the artists, therefore this new definition–“performance art”–has been used to label this activity as the first appearance of a genre. These artistic actions from that period were intended to challenge the bourgeois moral and the notion that every art is for sale.
Nowadays, performance art is stretched between the extremes – to be an expensive entertainment or to remain the least commercial but the most independent of all arts.
We will look at performance practices used in film (Derek Jarman, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Vera Chyilova, Dushan Makavejev, Maja Milos), technologically inspired art – (Stelarc, Yehuda Duenyas, Angela Washko, Moleindustria, Istvan Kantor), science and biology-inspired art – or bio-art as performance (Orlan, Adam Zaretsky, Kira O’Reilly), video performances (Linda Montano, Dynasty Handbag, Nao Bustamante) in music (Laibach, Pauline Oliveros) and many others. We will study historical movements such as Viennese and Russian actionisms, and at artists who became well known with their socially and politically engaged actions like The Yes Men, Martha Rosler, Oleg Mavromatti, Carolee Schneemann, Coco Fusco, and others.