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Performance art

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Shoot (1971) - Chris Burden
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Performance art is art where the actions of an individual or a group at a particular place and in a particular time constitute the work. It can happen anywhere, at any time, or for any length of time. Another way of understanding this is to say that performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer's body and a relationship between performer and audience. It is opposed to painting or sculpture, for example, where an object constitutes the work.

Although performance art could be said to include relatively mainstream activities such as theater, dance, music, and circus-related things like fire breathing, juggling, and gymnastics, these are normally instead known as the performing arts. Performance art is a term usually reserved to refer to a kind of usually avant garde or conceptual art which grew out of the visual arts.

Performance art, as the term is usually understood, began to be identified in the 1960s with the work of artists such as Allan Kaprow, who coined the term happenings, Vito Acconci, Hermann Nitsch and Joseph Beuys. Western cultural theorists often trace performance art activity back to the beginning of the 20th century. Dada for example, provided a significant progenitor with the unconventional performances of poetry, often at the Cabaret Voltaire, by the likes of Richard Huelsenbeck and Tristan Tzara. However, there are accounts of Renaissance artists putting on public performances that could be said to be early ancestors to modern performance art. Some performance artists point to other traditions, ranging from tribal ritual to sporting events. Performance art activity is not confined to European art traditions; many notable practitioners can be found among Asian, Latin American, Third World and First Nations artists.

Genres or strains of performance art include body art, fluxus, action poetry, and intermedia. Some artists, e.g. the Viennese Actionists and neo-Dadaists, prefer to use the terms live art, action art, intervention or manoeuvre to describe their activities.

Sniggling is an activist, prankish form of public performance art, which is typically done in a form in which it is not immediately obvious that a piece of deliberate performance is being delivered. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Performance_art [Aug 2004]

Shoot (1971) - Chris Burden

Chris Burden (born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1946) is an American artist.

He studied visual arts, physics and architecture at Pomona College and the University of California, Irvine from 1969 to 1971. In 1978 he became a Professor at University of California, Los Angeles, a position from which he resigned in 2005 due to a controversy over the university's alleged mishandling of a graduate student's classroom performance piece featuring a possibly loaded gun.

Burden's own reputation as a performance artist started to grow in the early 1970s after he made a series of controversial performances in which the idea of personal danger as artistic expression was central. His most well-known act from that time is perhaps the performance piece Shoot that was made in gallery F Space in Santa Ana, California in 1971, in which he was shot in his right arm by an assistant from a distance of about five meters. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Burden [Jul 2005]



see also: 1971 - contemporary art - danger - performance art

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