Performance art is a performance presented to an audience within a fine art context, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or via media; the performer can be present or absent. It can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body, or presence in a medium, and a relationship between performer and audience. Performance art can happen anywhere, in any type of venue or setting and for any length of time. The actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work.
Performance art is an essentially contested concept: any single definition of it implies the recognition of rival uses. As concepts like "democracy" or "art", it implies productive disagreement with itself.
The meaning of the term in the narrower sense is related to postmodernist traditions in Western culture. From about the mid-1960s into the 1970s, often derived from concepts of visual art, with respect to Antonin Artaud, Dada, the Situationists, Fluxus, installation art and conceptual art, performance art tended to be defined as an antithesis to theatre, challenging orthodox art forms and cultural norms. The ideal had been an ephemeral and authentic experience for performer and audience in an event that could not be repeated, captured or purchased. The widely discussed difference, how concepts of visual arts and concepts of performing arts are utilized, can determine the meanings of a performance art presentation.
Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a conceptual art which conveys a content-based meaning in a more drama-related sense, rather than being simple performance for its own sake for entertainment purposes. It largely refers to a performance presented to an audience, but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, or which alternately does not seek to depict a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. It therefore can include action or spoken word as a communication between the artist and audience, or even ignore expectations of an audience, rather than following a script written beforehand.
Some types of performance art nevertheless can be close to performing arts. Such performance may utilize a script or create a fictitious dramatic setting, but still constitute performance art in that it does not seek to follow the usual dramatic norm of creating a fictitious setting with a linear script which follows conventional real-world dynamics; rather, it would intentionally seek to satirize or to transcend the usual real-world dynamics which are used in conventional theatrical plays.
Performance artists often challenge the audience to think in new and unconventional ways, break conventions of traditional arts, and break down conventional ideas about "what art is". As long as the performer does not become a player who repeats a role, performance art can include satirical elements; utilize robots and machines as performers, as in pieces of the Survival Research Laboratories; involve ritualised elements (e.g. Shaun Caton); or borrow elements of any performing arts such as dance, music, and circus.
Some artists, e.g. the Viennese Actionists and neo-Dadaists, prefer to use the terms "live art", "action art", "actions", "intervention" (see art intervention) or "manoeuvre" to describe their performing activities. As genres of performance art appear body art, fluxus-performance, happening, action poetry, and intermedia.
Performance art activity is not confined to European or American art traditions; notable practitioners can be found in Asia and Latin America. Performance artists and theorists point to different traditions and histories, ranging from tribal to sporting and ritual or religious events. In an episode of In Our Time broadcast on Thu, 20 Oct 2005, 21:30 on BBC Radio 4, Angie Hobbs, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Warwick; Miriam Griffin, Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford; and John Moles, Professor of Latin, University of Newcastle discussed with Melvyn Bragg the idea that Antisthenes and Diogenes in ancient Greece practiced a form of performance art and that they acquired the epithet of cynic which means "dog" due to Diogenes behaving repeatedly like a dog in his performances.
Western cultural theorists often trace performance art activity back to the beginning of the 20th century, to the Russian constructivists, Futurists and Dada. Dada provided a significant progenitor with the unconventional performances of poetry, often at the Cabaret Voltaire, by the likes of Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara. Russian Futurist artists could be identified as precursors of performance, such as David Burliuk, who painted his face for his actions (1910–20) and Alexander Rodchenko and his wife Varvara Stepanova.
According to the art critic Harold Rosenberg in the 1940s and 1950s Action Painting gave artists the freedom to perform—the canvas as "an arena in which to act", thereby rendering the paintings as traces of the artist's performance in his/her studio. Abstract expressionism and Action painting preceded the Fluxus movement, Happenings and the emergence of Performance Art.
Yves Klein had been a precursor of performance art with the conceptual pieces of Zone de Sensibilité Picturale Immatérielle (Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility) 1959–62, Anthropométries (1960), and works like the photomontage, Saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void). In the late 1960s Earth artists as diverse as Robert Smithson, Dennis Oppenheim, Michael Heizer and Carl Andre created environmental pieces that predict the performance art of the 1970s. Works of conceptual artists in the early 1980s, like Sol LeWitt, who converted mural-style drawing into an act of performance by others, were influenced by Yves Klein and the Earth artists as well.
In the 1960s a variety of new works, concepts and the increasing number of artists led to new kinds of performance art. Prototypic for the art form later explicitly labeled "performance art", were works of artists like Yoko Ono with her Wall piece for orchestra (1962), Carolee Schneemann with pieces like Meat Joy (1964) and Interior Scroll (1975); Wolf Vostell with his Happening YOU  (1964 in New York); Joseph Beuys with How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965); Yayoi Kusama, with actions such as a naked flag-burning on the Brooklyn Bridge (1968) and Allan Kaprow in his many Happenings.
Kaprow had coined the term Happening describing a new artform, at the beginning of the 1960s. A Happening allows the artist to experiment with body motion, recorded sounds, written and spoken texts, and even smells. One of Kaprow's earliest was "Happenings in the New York Scene," written in 1961 as the form was developing. Notably in the Happenings of Allan Kaprow, the audience members become performers. While the audiences in Happenings had been welcomed as the performers, it is only sometimes and often unwittingly that they become an active part in a Performance. Other artists who created Happenings besides Kaprow include Jim Dine, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Whitman, and Wolf Vostell: Theater is in the Street (Paris in 1958).
Hermann Nitsch in 1962 presented his "Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries" (Orgien- und Mysterien Theater), a precursor to performance art, close to the performing arts.
Andy Warhol during the early 1960s beginning to create films and video, in the mid-60s sponsored the Velvet Underground and staged events and performances in New York, like the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (1966) that featured live Rock music, exploding lights, and film.
Indirectly influential for art-world performance, particularly in the United States, were new forms of theatre, embodied by the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Living Theatre and showcased in Off-Off Broadway theaters in SoHO and at La MaMa in New York City. The Living Theatre chiefly toured in Europe between 1963 and 1968, and in the U.S. in 1968. A work of this period, Paradise Now was notorious for its audience participation and a scene in which actors recited a list of social taboos that included nudity, while disrobing.
The work of performance artists after 1968 often showed influences of the cultural and political events of that year. Barbara T. Smith with Ritual Meal (1969) was at the forefront of the feminist body-, and performance art of the 1970s; among others including: Carolee Schneemann, and Joan Jonas. Schneemann and Jonas along with Yoko Ono, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell, Allan Kaprow, Vito Acconci, Chris Burden and Dennis Oppenheim pioneered the relationship between Body art and performance art.
At the beginning of the 1970s, artists whose work had already before tended to be a performance art, as well as new artists, began to present performance art in a stricter form.
New artists with radical performances were Chris Burden, with the 1971 performance piece Shoot, in which he was shot in his left arm by an assistant from a distance of about five meters, and Vito Acconci in the same year with Seedbed.
The book Expanded Cinema, by Gene Youngblood, marked a shift in the use of media by performance artists. The first book considering video art as an art form, mentions Jud Yalkut as a pioneering video artist. Since 1965 he had collaborated in dozens of intermedia performances throughout the United States, also with Nam June Paik, who beginning of the 1960s already had been a fluxus performer on the way to become a media artist. As to the art of Paik, Youngblood refers to works of Carolee Schneemann and Robert Whitman from the 1960s, which had been pioneering for performance art, becoming an independent artform at the beginning of the 1970s.
The British-based pair Gilbert and George, already in 1970, had documented actions of themselves on video, and created their "living sculpture" performance, being painted in gold and singing "Underneath The Arches" for extended periods. Joan Jonas began to include video in her experimental performances in 1972.
In 1973, Laurie Anderson performed Duets on Ice, on the streets of New York City. Marina Abramović, in the performance Rhythm 10, conceptually included the violation of her body. Thirty years later, the theme of violation, shame, and sexual exploitation would be re-imagined in the contemporary performance works of artists such as Clifford Owens, Gillian Walsh, Pat Oleszko and Rebecca Patek, among others.
Since 1973, the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman's Building in Los Angeles had a formative impact on the wave of performances with feminist background.
Carolee Schneemann work in 1963, Eye Body, already had been a prototype of performance art. Schneemann in 1975 drew on with innovative solo performances, like Interior Scroll, showing the female body as an artistic medium.
In the mid seventies, behind the iron curtain, in the Eastern European capitals: Budapest, Kraków, Belgrade, Zagreb, Novi Sad and other cities, the performing art was flourishing. Against the political and social control, emerged Orshi Drozdik performance series, titled Individual Mythology 1975/77 and the NudeModel 1976/77. Critical of the patriarchal discourse of art and the equally patriarchal state forced "emancipation program", pioneering feminist point of view on both, made her forerunner in the 70s political and artistic environment.
In 1976, HA Schult filled St. Mark's Square in Venice with old newspapers in an overnight action he called Venezia vive. In his 1977 performance, "Crash", the same artist let a Cessna crash into the garbage dump on Staten Island, New York.
Until the 1980s, performance art had been demystifying virtuosity. Now it began to embrace technical brilliance. In reference to Presence and Resistance by Philip Auslander, dance critic Sally Banes writes "... by the end of the 1980s, performance art had become so widely known that it no longer needed to be defined; mass culture, especially television, had come to supply both structure and subject matter for much performance art; and several performance artists, including Laurie Anderson, Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Willem Dafoe, and Ann Magnuson, had indeed become crossover artists in mainstream entertainment."
Despite the fact that many performances are held within the circle of a small art-world group, RoseLee Goldberg notes in Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present that "performance has been a way of appealing directly to a large public, as well as shocking audiences into reassessing their own notions of art and its relation to culture. Conversely, public interest in the medium, especially in the 1980s, stems from an apparent desire of that public to gain access to the art world, to be a spectator of its ritual and its distinct community, and to be surprised by the unexpected, always unorthodox presentations that the artists devise."
Among the performance art most discussed in the art-world of this decade were a performance by Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh between July 1983 and July 1984, Art/Life: One Year Performance (Rope Piece), and Karen Finley's I'm an Ass Man 1987.
Until the decline of the European eastern block during the late 1980s, performance art had actively been rejected by most communist governments. With the exception of Poland and Yugoslavia, performance art was more or less banned in countries where any independent public event was feared. In the GDR, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Latvia it happened in apartments, at seemingly spontaneous gatherings in artist studios, in church-controlled settings, or covered as another activity, like a photo-shooting. Isolated of the western conceptual context, in different settings it could be like a playful protest or like a bitter comment, using subversive metaphors to express dissent with the political situation.
Prior to 1982, Hedwig Gorski designated the term performance poetry, to distinguish her text-based vocal performances from performance art, especially the work of performance artists, such as Laurie Anderson, who worked with music at that time. Performance poets relied more on the rhetorical and philosophical expression in their poetics than performance artists, who arose from the visual art genres of painting and sculpture.
From 1981 to 1994, the Dutch visual artist PINK de Thierry created what she came to call meta-performances: a conceptual mix of intervention art in public space, performance art—interacting with an audience, installation art—utilizing large structures to perform in or with, and media art—photography and film to register and exhibit.
While the Soviet bloc disintegrated, formerly repressed activities of performance artists like György Galántai in Hungary, or the Collective Action Group in Russia, became better known. Young artists from all over the former Eastern bloc, including Russia, turned to performance. Performance art at about the same time appeared in Cuba, the Caribbean and China. Chinese performance artists like Zhang Huan had been performing underground since the late 1980s. In the early 1990s Chinese performance art already was acclaimed in the international art scene.
"In these contexts performance art became a critical new voice with a social force similar to that found in Western Europe, the United States and South America in the 1960s and early 1970s. It should be emphasized that the eruption of performance art in the 1990s in Eastern Europe, China, South Africa, Cuba, and elsewhere should never be considered either secondary to or imitative of the West."
Since 1996, HA Schult has installed one thousand life sized "Trash People" made from garbage as "silent witnesses to a consumer age that has created an ecological imbalance worldwide". They travelled to Moscow's Red Square (1999), the Pyramids of Giza (2002) and the Great Wall of China (2001).
In the western world in the 1990s, even sophisticated performance art became part of the cultural mainstream: performance art as a complete artform gained admittance into art museums and became a museal topic.
In the second half of the decade, computer-aided forms of performance art began to take place.
Since January 2003, Tate Modern in London has had a curated programme of live art and performance and in 2012 The Tanks at Tate Modern were opened: the first dedicated spaces for performance, film, and installation in a major modern and contemporary art museum.
From March 14 to May 31, 2010, the Museum of Modern Art held a major retrospective and performance recreation of Marina Abramović's work, the biggest exhibition of performance art in MoMA's history. During the run of the exhibition, Abramović performed The Artist is Present, a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the museum's atrium, while spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her. A support group for the "sitters", "Sitting with Marina", was established on Facebook. The performance attracted celebrities such as Björk and James Franco and received coverage on the internet. During Marina's performance, other artists performed for her.
Allan Kaprow (August 23, 1927 – April 5, 2006) was an American painter, assemblagist and a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art. He helped to develop the "Environment" and "Happening" in the late 1950s and 1960s, as well as their theory. His Happenings — some 200 of them — evolved over the years. Eventually Kaprow shifted his practice into what he called "Activities", intimately scaled pieces for one or several players, devoted to the study of normal human activity in a way congruent to ordinary life. Fluxus, performance art, and installation art were, in turn, influenced by his work.Bristol Hippodrome
The Bristol Hippodrome (grid reference ST590729) is a theatre located in The Centre, Bristol, England, United Kingdom with seating on three levels giving a capacity of 1,951. It frequently features shows from London's West End when they tour the UK, as well as regular visits by Welsh National Opera and an annual pantomime.Conservation and restoration of performance art
The conservation and restoration of performance art is the process of documenting, collecting, and prolonging the life of Performance Art. Performance Art often features a live presentation initially documented by an artist, cultural institution, or host location. This genre of art can take place in a wide range of mediums, and is usually based on four core elements: Time, Space, the Performer's body, and the relationship between viewers and performer. These variables determine how it can be collected and conserved within museums or cultural institutions.Edinburgh Playhouse
Edinburgh Playhouse is a former cinema in Edinburgh, Scotland which now hosts touring musicals and music concerts. Its capacity is 3,059, (Stalls: 1,519, Balcony: 860 and Circle: 680) making it the UK's largest working non-sporting theatre in terms of audience capacity. (The Hammersmith Apollo, which is a similar building, has more seats, but it is only used for concerts, not for musicals.) The theatre is owned by Ambassador Theatre Group.Endurance art
Endurance art is a kind of performance art involving some form of hardship, such as pain, solitude or exhaustion. Performances that focus on the passage of long periods of time are also known as durational art or durational performances.Writer Michael Fallon traces the genre to the work of Chris Burden in California in the 1970s. Burden spent five days in a locker in Five-Day Locker Piece (1971), had himself shot in Shoot (1971), and lived for 22 days in a bed in an art gallery in Bed Piece (1972).Other examples of endurance art include Tehching Hsieh's One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece), in which for 12 months he punched a time clock every hour, and Art/Life One Year Performance 1983–1984 (Rope Piece), in which Hsieh and Linda Montano spent a year tied to each other by an eight-foot rope.In The House with the Ocean View (2003), Marina Abramović lived silently for 12 days without food or entertainment on a stage entirely open to the audience. Such is the physical stamina required for some of her work that in 2012 she set up what she called a "boot camp" in Hudson, New York, for participants in her multiple-person performances.Exploding Plastic Inevitable
The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, sometimes simply called Plastic Inevitable or EPI, was a series of multimedia events organized by Andy Warhol between 1966 and 1967, featuring musical performances by The Velvet Underground and Nico, screenings of Warhol's films, and dancing and performances by regulars of Warhol's Factory, especially Mary Woronov and Gerard Malanga. Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable is also the title of an 18-minute film by Ronald Nameth with recordings from one week of performances of the shows which were filmed in Chicago, Illinois, in 1966. In December 1966 Warhol included a one-off magazine called The Plastic Exploding Inevitable as part of the Aspen No. 3 package.Go-go dancing
Go-go dancers are dancers who are employed to entertain crowds at nightclubs or other venues where music is played. Go-go dancing originated in the early 1960s, by some accounts when women at the Peppermint Lounge in New York City began to get up on tables and dance the twist. Some claim that go-go dancing originated at, and was named after, the very popular Los Angeles rock club Whisky a Go Go which opened in January 1964, but the opposite may be true – the club chose the name to reflect the already popular craze of go-go dancing. Many 1960s-era clubgoers wore miniskirts and knee-high, high-heeled boots, which eventually came to be called go-go boots. Night club promoters in the mid‑1960s then conceived the idea of hiring women dressed in these outfits to entertain patrons.Happening
A happening is a performance, event, or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. The term was first used by Allan Kaprow during the 1950s to describe a range of art-related event or multiple events.Laurie Anderson
Laura Phillips "Laurie" Anderson (born June 5, 1947) is an American avant-garde artist, composer, musician and film director whose work spans performance art, pop music, and multimedia projects. Initially trained in violin and sculpting, Anderson pursued a variety of performance art projects in New York during the 1970s, focusing particularly on language, technology, and visual imagery. She became more widely known outside the art world when her single "O Superman" reached number two on the UK singles chart in 1981. She also starred in and directed the 1986 concert film Home of the Brave.Anderson is a pioneer in electronic music and has invented several devices that she has used in her recordings and performance art shows. In 1977, she created a tape-bow violin that uses recorded magnetic tape on the bow instead of horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge. In the late 1990s, she developed a talking stick, a six-foot (1.8 m) long baton-like MIDI controller that can access and replicate sounds.Anderson met Lou Reed in 1992, and was married to him from 2008 until his death in 2013.Magic (illusion)
Magic, along with its subgenres of, and sometimes referred to as illusion, stage magic or close up magic is a performing art in which audiences are entertained by staged tricks or illusions of seemingly impossible feats using natural means. It is to be distinguished from paranormal magic which are effects claimed to be created through supernatural means. It is one of the oldest performing arts in the world.
Modern entertainment magic, as pioneered by 19th-century magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, has become a popular theatrical art form. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, magicians such as Maskelyne and Devant, Howard Thurston, Harry Kellar, and Harry Houdini achieved widespread commercial success during what has become known as "The Golden Age of Magic". During this period, performance magic became a staple of Broadway theatre, vaudeville, and music halls. Magic retained its popularity in the television age, with magicians such as David Copperfield, Doug Henning, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine successfully modernizing the art form.Musical
Musical is the adjective of music.
Musical may also refer to:
Musical theatre, a performance art that combines songs, spoken dialogue, acting and dance
Musical film, a genre of film that incorporates into the narrative songs sung by the characters
MusicAL, an Albanian television channelPoi (performance art)
Poi refers to both a style of performing art and the equipment used for engaging in poi performance. As a performance art, poi involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Poi artists may also sing or dance while swinging their poi. Poi can be made from various materials with different handles, weights, and effects (such as fire).
Poi originated with the Māori people of New Zealand, where it is still practiced today. Poi has also gained a following in many other countries. The expansion of poi culture has led to a significant evolution of the styles practiced, the tools used, and the definition of the word "poi."Richmond Theatre
The present Richmond Theatre, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, is a British Victorian theatre located on Little Green, adjacent to Richmond Green. It opened on 18 September 1899 with a performance of As You Like It. One of the finest surviving examples of the work of theatre architect Frank Matcham, the building, in red brick with buff terracotta, is listed Grade II* by Historic England. John Earl, writing in 1982, described it as "[o]f outstanding importance as the most completely preserved Matcham theatre in Greater London and one of his most satisfying interiors."Sand animation
Sand animation is the manipulation of sand to create animation. In performance art an artist creates a series of images using sand, a process which is achieved by applying sand to a surface and then rendering images by drawing lines and figures in the sand with one's hands. A sand animation performer will often use the aid of an overhead projector or lightbox (similar to one used by photographers to view translucent films). To make an animated film, sand is moved on a backlit or frontlit piece of glass to create each frame.Shia LaBeouf
Shia Saide LaBeouf ( (listen); born June 11, 1986) is an American actor, performance artist, and filmmaker. He became known among younger audiences as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, a role for which LaBeouf received a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003. He made his film debut in The Christmas Path (1998). In 2004, he made his directorial debut with the short film Let's Love Hate and later directed a short film titled Maniac (2011), starring American rappers Cage and Kid Cudi.
In 2007, LaBeouf starred in the commercially successful films Disturbia and Surf's Up. The same year he was cast in Michael Bay's science fiction film Transformers as Sam Witwicky, the main protagonist of the series. Transformers was a box office success and one of the highest-grossing films of 2007. LaBeouf later appeared in its sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), both also box office successes. In 2008, he played Henry "Mutt Williams" Jones III in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Some of his other most notable roles are in films such as Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), Lawless (2012), The Company You Keep (2012), Nymphomaniac (2013), Fury (2014), American Honey (2016), and Borg vs McEnroe (2017).
Since 2014, LaBeouf has pursued a variety of public performance art projects with LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner.Tableau vivant
A tableau vivant (often shortened to tableau, plural: tableaux vivants), French for 'living picture', is a static scene containing one or more actors or models. They are stationary and silent, usually in costume, carefully posed, with props and/or scenery, and may be theatrically lit. It thus combines aspects of theatre and the visual arts.
A tableau may either be 'performed' live, or depicted in painting, photography and sculpture, such as in many works of the Romantic, Aesthetic, Symbolist, Pre-Raphaelite, and Art Nouveau movements.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tableaux sometimes featured poses plastiques ('flexible poses') by virtually nude models, providing a form of erotic entertainment, both on stage and in print.
Tableaux continue to the present day in the form of living statues, street performers who busk by posing in costume.Tar (Azerbaijani instrument)
The Azerbaijani tar and the skills related to this tradition play a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of Azerbaijanis. The Tar is a long-necked plucked lute, traditionally crafted and performed in communities throughout the Republic of Azerbaijan. The tar features alone or with other instruments in numerous traditional musical styles. It also considered by many to be the country’s leading musical instrument.
In 2012, the craftsmanship and performance art of the tar was added to the UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.Three Weeks in May
Three Weeks in May: Speaking Out On Rape, A Political Art Piece was an extended work of performance art and activism by Suzanne Lacy. The piece took place in Los Angeles, California from May 8 to May 24, 1977.Upright Citizens Brigade
The Upright Citizens Brigade is an improvisational and sketch comedy group that emerged from Chicago's ImprovOlympic in 1990. The original incarnation of the group consisted of Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, Adam McKay, Rick Roman, Horatio Sanz and Drew Franklin. Other early members included Neil Flynn, Armando Diaz, Ali Farahnakian and Rich Fulcher.
In 2013, Besser, Roberts and Walsh wrote The Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual.