Lecture response – Extra Credit

After the lecture on February 14, 2012 , I have a few comments regarding performance art.  To be quite honest, it was hard for me to connect some of the listed happenings to art when the lecture was going on. Some of the performances seemed to simplistic, boring, and dull that I couldn’t imagine attending them and actually being able to walk out satisfied with what I had saw.   For example, the performance called “Rhythm O” from Marina Abramovic in 1974 peeved me.  Not only did she have many dangerous objects that could potentially kill her, I was unsure of what her point was with this performance.  I feel that if I had attended this performance, I would not have participated in it based upon the crude, radical aura that it gives off.

Another performance that I found quite interesting was the “Tap and Touch Cinema” by Valle Export in 1968.  I thought that this performance was quite humorous. Using a box in front of the females body parts and having men touch what was inside the box, without actually seeing it, seems silly to me. My first initial thought was that if I was the artist or the performer, I would have laughed quite a lot.  I would also have felt embarrassed because of how goofy it looked and how judgmental the men would be.

The last performance that I wanted to comment on was the “Anthropotmetric” performance by Yves Klein in 1960.  By using naked women as the artists paintbrushes, I believe that this degrades the entire female species. Not only does the artist used the women as tools to make a painting, by dragging them across a canvas, but he also uses their NAKED bodies while an audience watches.  Especially in the 1960s when the civil rights movements were at their peak, I think that this performance is insulting. If I had attended, I probably would have walked out disgusted.

For the most part, performance art interests me the most because there is actual visual movement. I find it hard to get myself involved in art that doesn’t move or doesn’t have a specific meaning behind it. For example, contemporary art and land art bore me. So performance art is so far my favorite.

3 Responses

  1. As performance art is so strongly based on it’s audience, the problem with performance art is it’s inability to exist outside the moment in which it was performed. In an interview with The Observer in 2010, Abramovic said: “I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself…but I also take the energy from the audience and transform it. It goes back to them in a different way. This is why people in the audience often cry or become angry or whatever. A powerful performance will transform everyone in the room.” With this powerful statement, Abramovic seems to be arguing that the crux of the piece is during the performance itself – the sensation that is evoked by witnessing these visceral and often brutal acts. So how can we, 30+ years later, grasp the power of the work when we can never return to that moment? Through photography, video and written accounts, we (in the present of 2012) can attempt to intellectually understand the purpose and significance of the work, but without direct access to the moment in which the work was performed, it is impossible to feel and sense the power of the work. Without direct access to the past, performance art will always remain a concept, when it is actually an experience.
    For me, this is why Abramovic is the most interesting and challenging performance artist that we have studied. WIth her retrospective at MOMA, her performances were actually recreated, allowing millions more people to truly experience the power of experiencing her performances, rather than watching it on YouTube and attempting to image what it MIGHT have been like to be there. Although I acknowledge that there are many problems with staging a retrospective of performance art, I admire Abromivic’s decision to bring her canon to a whole new generation of viewers. Having visited the exhibit myself two years ago, I feel that Abramovic is the only performance artists I actually know, both intellectually and emotionally. Having experienced both her past and present works (I “sat” with her during The Artist is Present,) her work no longer remains to me an elusive reinterpretation of past events, but something I myself experienced first hand. And, with that said, her work is just as powerful and moving as it is rumored to be.

    • i am curious…. what did you experience by sitting with her? And why do you think it might have anything to do with what was experienced 30 years ago? Do you think it was similar to what the previous person sitting across from her experienced?

  2. Her work “The Artist is Present” was a new work that was in conjunction with her retrospective. The experience of ‘sitting’ with her was new, or at least placed into focus for this work specifically. My experience was visceral, cathartic, and very intense. She really does look at you directly with a potent and ambiguous stare that, I imagine, evokes a different response from everyone who sits with her. As well,
    having been a fan of her work for several years prior to siting with her, it was very surreal for me to be that close to Abramovic. For me, her celebrity and infamy was also a major part of my reaction to sitting with her.
    I cannot speak to whether my experience of her work (the retrospective) was similar to those who experienced it 30 years ago, but I susepct that it is not. But the fact that I was able to experience it at all is the point. I truly believe that performance art exists in a moment exclusive only to the past which can never be recovered in the present. Just as the past can never truly be re-represented, neither can performance art (with the exception of Ambramovic’s retrospective.) The event itself informs it’s meaning.

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