People may experience second hand, through artists, other possibilities of aesthetic, political and sexual freedom they lack in their own lives. This may be one of the reasons why, despite countless predictions over the past few decades, performance art hasn’t died, nor has it been replaced by other mediums.
Body art has evaded representation by focusing on the materiality of the performer’s bodies and presenting concrete life actions. In the wake of body art, theorists began writing on the significance and meaning of the body that was not a reference bearer but was ‘itself’.
In this essay I will use Amelia Jones historical evidence and critique on the body/self, Roselee Goldberg’s study on performance art, and Rebecca Schneider’s text on the explicit body to help to support my analyse the political function and socially charge topic of using the body/self within art and explore the identity artists have had to contend with. The body of work will also briefly comprise of examples of Marina Abramović’s and Petr Pavlensky;s work to support my discussion, all of whom practice uncompromising art, exploring the self and the limits of the body.
1: Real Action
Recent art history reveals a significant shift in artists’ perceptions of the body, which has been used not simply as the content of the work, but also as a canvas, frame and platform. Over the course of the last hundred years artists and others have interrogated the way in which the body has been depicted. The idea of the physical and mental self as a stable and finite form has gradually eroded, echoing influential developments in the fields of psychoanalysis, philosophy, medicine and science. Artists have investigated the temporality, eventuality and instabili...
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... performance artist as anti-hero and counter-cultural figure has and always will be desired. Exposing the body, exposing the holes in the self is pointing to the ultimate source of human aggression in both personal and political levels.
‘renders the symbolic [as] literal’ in order to ‘pose a threat… [to] implicit structures of comprehensibility.’ It is a body which is scarred by a history larger than the bodies’ wearer – in which we are removing to reveal what is already there, but unknown to us.
'... the live presence of the artist, and the focus on the artist's body, became central to notions of 'the real', and a yardstick for installation and video art.
“I am taking this radical form to call people to action – their own, in their own chosen form.”
“the bond between flesh and idea, and the general armature which manifest and which it conceals.”
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