Materializing The Performance Essay

3127 words - 13 pages

Over the past few years, my art practice has developed into a series of walking performances celebrating the everyday actions of humanity. The performances, however, have not always produced a tangible object for a gallery exhibition. This creates the problematic situation of restricting the awareness of my work to only those who witness the performances first-hand. An exhibition would have the ability to expose my work and practices to a broader audience by not always being dependent on my physical presence within the exhibition space. The research to be conducted is to search for and examine similar contemporary artists and how they successfully turned their performances of the everyday into art objects for an exhibition space. The information found will help inform me of how to better carry out my own studio practices and provide a new direction of thought on how to address the creation of art objects to represent my performances.

With the arrival of the Conceptual movement in the 1960’s, the definition of art expanded beyond the static object to include art as solely an experience. As a result, artists who choose performance as their medium do not always necessarily produce a material, tangible object to exist for future times in space. This creates a predicament for both the established art museums documenting the evolution of art, and for the performance artists whose contribution to art history could go unrecognized.
An art piece juxtaposed with other contemporary and Modern art provides a better understanding of the work and historical context, making it impossible for any artist to be completely independent of the traditional art system. Because of this dependency, how are museums facilitating performance artists? How have performance artists adapted the art object to document their ephemeral practices?
To find how artists have been effective in materializing their performances, my research begins by investigating the Conceptual art movement, "which insisted on an art of ideas over product, and on an art that could not be bought or sold" (Goldberg 1979, 7). Conceptual art recognized ephemeral practices, such as performance art, and brought it the attention of the art world. As a result of conceptual practices, the perspective of what is considered an acceptable art object has evolved from the static object. The change involves the art object's role with the spectator and its longevity as a physical item. It is vital to know how performance artists embraced the changed art object and adapted it into documenting their performances and practices.
I will then discuss contemporary artists intentionally seeking out spaces beyond the traditional gallery boundaries. By focusing on subjects and interaction within the everyday, performance artists in public spaces have the ability to capture an audience which is not necessarily attainable with static art in traditional spaces. Art achieved through everyday...

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