Performance was frequently viewed as an unconventional method of creating art throughout the 20th century. Artists had alternatives to the static permanence of painting and sculpture in the form of live-ness, physical movement, and impermanence. The term, which is now widely accepted in the field of visual art, is now also used to refer to film, video, photographic, and installation-based artworks that represent the actions of the creators, performers, or audience.
Performance is now viewed as a way to interact directly with social reality, space-specific details, and identity politics. Jonah Westerman, a theorist, stated in 2016 that “performance is not (and never was) a medium, not something that an artwork can be, but rather a set of questions and concerns about how art relates to people and the larger social world.”
Performers – Creation of Events
In performing arts, artists use their voices and bodies to express their artistic expression or a message. It’s distinct from the visual arts, where artists produce works of art using paint, canvas, and other materials.
Theatre, public speaking, dance, music, and other forms of the performing arts are examples of how one can use performance to express an opinion, emotion, feeling, or taste. Arts or skills that call for public performance are referred to as performing arts. Acting, singing, and dancing are a few examples. Opera, theatre, magic or illusion shows, mime, spoken word, recitation, and public speaking are examples of additional performing arts. Performers are those who work in this industry.
Performance art is first and foremost an interdisciplinary practice that can use any material or medium from any field, such as music, dance, literature, poetry, architecture, fashion, design, and film. Performance art frequently uses plot and narrative, but it also frequently uses theatrical and dramatic techniques like recitation and improvisation. Performance art can be unscripted or scripted, improvised or rehearsed, one-time only, durational, or spontaneous. The scale of performance can range from a series of small, private gestures to large-scale public demonstrations, spectacles, or parades that are presented individually or in groups. The visual artist is the performer, the creator, and the director of the performance, in contrast to traditional theatre production techniques Performance art can be displayed anywhere, including in art museums, galleries, alternative art spaces, or in impromptu locations like cafés, bars, or public spaces, where the environment and the frequently unaware audience play a crucial role in the meaning of the piece.
Immersive Experience – Performance Art
Modern technology to capture the energy of contemporary urban life, futurist artists created novel forms of art and artist-led activities like repeated actions, lectures, manifestos, large-scale protests, and live street tableau X. All types of performances served as inspiration for artists, including well-known entertainment genres like the variety show, circus, cabaret, and opera. Live public engagement was essential, and performances included improvised, unpredictable, and frequently chaotic performances by artists, poets, actors, architects, critics, and painters. These were frequently accompanied by discussions and debates to spread and launch new cultural ideas.
The socially conscious, utilitarian ethos of constructivism, with its emphasis on audience participation, the underground theatre of agitprop, the anti-art agenda of data, with their anarchic collaborations, cabarets, and performances, the experimental performances, films, and theatre productions of the surrealists, and the innovations of the Bauhaus school and its influence on interdisciplinary are other important influences on the development of performance art. The displacement of the art object as the site of artistic engagement and the establishment of performance as an acceptable form of artistic expression were both influenced by these experimental and avant-garde art movements. They also established a new standard for interdisciplinary collaboration, in which artists used a variety of media to develop fresh performance styles and artist-led events.
Some Notable Examples
Untilled, Pierre Huyghe, (2011-12)
Pierre Huyghe’s work for Documenta in 2011 felt like an elegy for a dying world. It included a garden, a wilderness, an installation, and a performance. Strange plants of all kinds, including nightshades and Afghan poppies as well as aphrodisiacs, poisons, and psychoactive plants, grew in great stands of nettles. A bronze statue of a reclining woman with a living beehive on her head was placed in a clearing next to a pond. Two lean greyhounds, one of which had a pink-dyed leg, walked around. “Live things and inanimate things, made and not made,” read Huyghe’s description of this amazing piece.
The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson, (2003)
Footage of the “The weather project” scene from 2003, shot in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London. A semi-circular screen, a mirrored ceiling, and fake mist were all used in this site-specific installation to simulate a sun. Along with the semi-circular screen mounted on the far wall, whose long edge abutted the mirrored ceiling, the ceiling was covered in aluminum frames lined with mirror foil, creating a huge mirror that appeared to double the volume of the hall. The semi-circle and its reflection were backlit by about 200 mono-frequency lights, and through the generated artificial mist, they gave the impression of a massive indoor sunset.
Freischwimmer, Wolfgang Tillmans, (2003-present)
From composed still lives of shells and sliced fruit to close-up, half-naked portraits, German artist Wolfgang Tillmans captured scenes of what appeared to be everyday life. The acclaimed Freischwimmer series, which exemplifies Tillmans’ deft ability to manipulate photographic techniques to produce sublime and poetic planes of light and color, is pivotal within this impressive and diverse body of work.
Performance art is increasingly being staged and performed in museum and gallery spaces after decades of eluding them. Performance art is ephemeral and transient by nature, which makes preservation, archiving, and re-presentation difficult. The majority of modern museums and galleries, however, are adding live performances to their collections, restaging old works, showcasing new work, and adopting interdisciplinary programming. A large number of organizations, training programs, and festivals are devoted to performance art, and a growing number of professional practitioners are still exploring its limitations, relevance, and significance as a form of contemporary art.
Artincontext (2023) Performance art – a look at the types of performance art, artincontext.org. Available at: https://artincontext.org/performance-art/ (Accessed: 22 July 2023).
The best art of the 21st Century (2019) The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/sep/17/the-best-visual-art-of-the-21st-century (Accessed: 22 July 2023).
Parazzoli, G. (2018) Beyond the frame: Performance art of the 21st Century, Santa Fe New Mexican. Available at: https://www.santafenewmexican.com/pasatiempo/books/beyond-the-frame-performance-art-of-the-21st-century/article_c7ae1dde-1ec1-50de-867e-28efc55413e3.html (Accessed: 22 July 2023).
Tate (no date) Performance art, Tate. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/performance-art (Accessed: 22 July 2023).
The best art of the 21st Century (2019a) The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/sep/17/the-best-visual-art-of-the-21st-century (Accessed: 22 July 2023).
Performing arts (no date) Performing Arts – Welcoming the 21st Century – Missouri State. Available at: https://www.missouristate.edu/21Cent/themeart.htm (Accessed: 22 July 2023).