Performance Art

What is performance art?

Performance art is an interdisciplinary art form that combines visual art with dramatic performance or action. It has its' historical roots in futurism and dada and became widespread in the 60's and 70's. Performance art can be planned or spontaneous, but it should make you think! It can be considered a branch of conceptual art.

Contemporary Performance Artists

Look up some of these artists today who work with performance, among other things...Rikrit Tiravanija, Tino Seghal, Liam Gillick, Philippe Parreno, Olafur Eliasson, Doug Aitkin, Pierre Huyghe, Steve McQueen, Matthew Barney, Francis Alys, Mona Hatoum

image: Performance by Francis Alÿs,1997 in which he pushed a block of ice around the streets of Mexico city for 9 hours until it melted completely, with nothing remaining at all but the documentation.

"Performance art is art for which the artist uses their own body as the medium and performs an action or series of actions which become the artwork"- tate.org

Discussion and Reflection

Why would an artist do such a thing?( image of performance by Francis Alys seen above)-What does this make you think about?

Is there skill or craft involved in performance art?

How is performance art a powerful response to the market driven art world?

Performance art is work that exists only in the moment and cannot be sold the way paintings and sculptures are.

Find out more about performance art, artists and historical background with these resources at Tate Performance Art

Check out the "grandmother of performance art" in  Marina Abramovic's Advice for Artists

Try this performance activity for young people based on the artist Bruce Naumans' work "Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square"

Performance art in IB

Can students interested in performance art explore this art form for their assessed IB work? Yes they can, both in their Process Portfolio and for the Exhibition. It is important that work is properly documented and presented for assessment.

Process Portfolio

Where does Performance Art fit in the Art Making Forms Table ?

Lens-based, electronic, time-based and sequential art forms

Column three of the IB art-making forms table includes time-based and sequential art such as animation and performance art, lens-based photography and moving image, digital collage and montage, video, projections, screen-based graphics and software generated design.

Time-based and sequential art forms include animation, storyboard, performance art and any work that takes place over a period of time.

Documenting time-based work

You can document time based work with video for your E submission for Exhibition , several different file types are acceptable as detailed in E submission Guidelines

Time based work can be included in the Process Portfolio with a series of still photos, screen shots, thumbnails, but not moving images or links.

Medium matters

When documenting time-based work for the final exhibition, be sure to state clearly in the Exhibition Text in what medium you presented it at the exhibition: for example, was it a live performance piece or a video projection of the performance?

This time-based performance piece by student Alberte Holmø Bojesens is documented in a seven- minute film. The film was projected at her IB Art exhibition.

Alberte describes the inspiration for this performance in the accompanying exhibition text: 'The piece depicts how adolescents dance around in their own little world, egoism made visual through dance and music. The eerie feeling is created by sheets and blue light, inspired by the choreography in the film First Born [dir. Isaac Webb] and by Christo's Running Fence. The original dance and sound are inspired by the musician Nick Cave's performances.'

TOK and Art Questions

Art and Meaning

  • Are there limits to what we can call art?
  • Who decides what is art?
  • When does performance become art?
  • Is there a line between the different art forms?                                                                                                                                                                
  • Is life art?

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