Tag Archives: performance art

Two Types of Blogs

lucas blogging drawing

To follow on from my recent post about “good” blogs… I want to get down on blog-paper a few thoughts rattling around my brain about blogging…

Last year my friend Kirsten asked me about blogging – about how to go about making a “good” blog. She, of course, has a good blog of her own, but seeing as I’ve done a couple of very intensive art projects which use blogs as their primary medium, I do have some thoughts about the nuts and bolts of making them work.
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Inhabiting Allan Kaprow’s Push and Pull

kaprow push pull instructions
[Excerpt from instructions page at Kaprow’s Push and Pull. The full text of the instructions is available online here, or for the typewriter/paper feel, read them here.]

Creative Time organised a presentation of Allan Kaprow’s Push and Pull: A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann, during the Performa Festival. It ran for three days at a space called Passerby.

Push and Pull is a dynamic installation in which anyone can come and rearrange furniture which is spread around in a room. Well, we might call it an installation now, but in Kaprow’s day (the piece was first presented in 1963) it was a “Happening” (or an “Environment”). It’s clear that Kaprow, in the four years since 18 Happenings in 6 Parts was presented, had substantially reworked his idea of what a Happening should be. If 18 Happenings in 6 Parts was a sort of experimental theatre involving specially prepared “actors”, then by the time he devised Push and Pull, Kaprow had moved on to creating situations where the “audience” was now the primary activator of the work.
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18 Happenings in 6 Parts

allan kaprow happening
[more photos here]

On Sunday night Lizzie and I went down to Long Island City to see the “re-do” of Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts. I’m a big fan of Kaprow’s work and his writings, and I’m also really interested in re-enactment or re-creation as a method of experiencing ephemeral artwork from the past. (Karinne Keithly has written another account of 18 Happenings over here).

A few notes on the event:
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Lone Twin interviewed by Christopher Hewitt

the following is a cut and paste from this word document here (or here if you want google’s transformation into html).

-It’s a spiel and interview about Lone Twin, which was put together by the wonderful Christopher Hewitt for the 2004 Brussels KunstenFESTIVALdesArts. I’m pasting it here because it’s really interesting, and because there’s not much of this depth available on the web about Lone Twin.

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Augusto Boal and Theater of the Oppressed

A short while ago I went to Adelaide to run part of a workshop on experimental public art practices. I tried some exercises from Augusto Boal’s book “Games for Actors and Non-Actors”.
Here are a few links I noted about Boal from around the net…






abramovic’s re-enactments

Thanks to Spiros, who has boldly been experimenting with the intimacy of performance at Gertrude Street…
A review of Marina Abramovic’s 7 easy pieces at the Guggenheim last November. Abramovic re-enacted performances from the 1970s by Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, Gina Pane, Valie Export, Joseph Beuys, and herself. This review by Johanna Burton captures the difficult territory that this kind of work negotiates – bringing ephemeral, poorly documented work to solid “reality” in the present. Particularly interesting for me was Burton’s remark about the tendency of the performances to become like 3 dimensional images:

the “reenactments,” particularly in retrospect, cemented themselves in my mind as sophisticated holograms, both present and past, fact and fiction.

I find it fascinating that this impulse exists to try and physically grasp what has become iconic and influential in the history of art.

See the entries under the category “re-enactment” for more on this issue.

nontheatrical performance: Kaprow

the following is taken from 'Nontheatrical Performance (1976) by Allan Kaprow, in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life

…artists themselves, […] today are so trained to accept anything as annexable to art that they have a ready-made “art-frame” in their heads that can be set down anywhere, at any time. They do not require the traditional signs, rooms, arrangements, and rites of performance because performance is an attitude about involvement on some plane in something going on. It does not have to be onstage, and it really does not have to be announced.


here is the ball game I perceive: an artist can

(1)    work within recognizable art modes and present the work in recognizable art contexts

    e.g.,    paintings in galleries
                poetry in poetry books
                music in concert halls, etc.

(2)    work in unrecognisable, ie nonart, modes but present the work in recognisable art contexts

    e.g.,    a pizza parlour in a gallery
                a telephone book sold as poetry, etc.

(3)    work in recognizable art modes but present the work in nonart contexts

    e.g.,    a “Rembrandt as an ironing board”
                a fugue in an air-conditioning duct
                a sonnet as a want ad, etc.

(4) work in nonart modes but present the work in nonart contexts

    e.g.,     perception tests in a psychology lab
                anti-erosion terracing in the hills
                typewriter repairing
                garbage collecting, etc. (with the proviso that the art world knows about it)

(5)    work in nonart modes and nonart contexts but cease the call the work art, retaining instead the private consciousness that sometimes it may be art, too

    e.g.,     systems analysis
                social work in a ghetto
                thinking, etc.


Performance in the nontheatrical sense that I am discussing hovers very close to this fifth possibility, yet the intellectual discipline it implies and the indifference to validation by the art world it requires suggest that the person enganged in it would view art less as a profession than as a metaphor. At present such performance is generally nonart activity conducted in nonart contexts but offered as quasi-art to art-minded people. That is, to those not interested in whether it is or isn’t art, who may, however, be interested for other reasons, it need not be justified as an artwork.

Kaprow’s Fluids (1967)




[-poster for FLUIDS (1967) – from the funny old book Adrian Henri, Total Art: Environments, Happenings, and Performance, Praeger, New York, 1974, p97]

[Update November 27, 2007: Fluids was remade at the Performa Festival in NYC in 2007. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend that event, but I have written about Push and Pull, and 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, which were also recreated during Performa.]

performance and kind-ness: lone twin

On the weekend i went down to perth to participate in a workshop by uk artists 'lone twin'. anne had tipped me off on it, and i managed to get there at the last minute. this performance duo is pretty inspiring. they take 'pointless activity' to the max – for example line dancing, blindfolded, without music, in cowboy costumes, for 12 hours continuously. in another work, they were asked to link two art centres at opposite ends of an english village, colchester. they got a map and drew a straight line with a ruler between the 2 centres. then they decided to walk as close to a straight line as possible between the two places. To make it a bit more difficult, they wore their cowboy outfits and dragged with them a telegraph pole – it took 8 days! each person they met with told them stories about the town… one woman said they had arrived "25 years late" since that was when a wall blocking their way had been built. each of these encounters was documented by burning the initials of the person into the pole using a magnifying glass and the sun. when they finally arrived at their destination, a crowd of townsfolk had gathered. they all raised the pole together, and lone twin told their stories back to them.

The title of the workshop was “performance and kindness”. [see http://www.cityofswan.com/nrla/workshops.htm] Lone twin are interested in the idea that their activity often generates kindness from those they come into contact with. In return, their lavishing of time and attention on a place or activity is a sort of kindness in itself. It's an interesting concept in relation to performance art, given its famous history of (self) violence. But then i started thinking about the idea of kindness. The word began to me to have a ring of other sorts of “ness” – you know, like the “tree-ness” of a tree is that it should stand tall and provide shade. The “bird-ness” of a bird is that it should fly and have feathers. Of course, these ness-es are negotiable, and changeable over time… It occurred to me that the word “kind” (when used interchangeably with the word “sort” could be a kind of category word – a word which attempts to come to grips with the thing-ness of a thing.
One definition of "kind" from dictionary.com: "Fundamental, underlying character as a determinant of the class to which a thing belongs; nature or essence."
"Kind-ness": the condition of a thing that it should *be like* something (that it should "have a kind"). The character of a thing, precisely that it should *have* a character of some sort.
It's a humble definition, i realise, (and a fuzzy unformed one) but not without some kindness (generosity) within itself – it respects the nature of something for what it is, without trying to change it.

(re)presenting performance

[for related discussion, see this thread].

sigh. i gotta be overseas:…..

Marina Abramovic (re)performs works by Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, FF
Alumns, at the Guggenheim Museum, NY, April 8, 9.

This two-day symposium is a prelude to the performance and exhibition
project Marina Abramovic: Seven Easy Pieces, scheduled for fall 2005, in
which the artist (re)performs and reinterprets seminal works from the 1970s
by Vito Acconci, Joseph Beuys, Valie Export, Bruce Nauman, Gina Pane, and

(Re)presenting Performance
FRI APR 8, 48 PM and SAT APR 9, 10 AM6 PM
A series of panels comprised of art historians, artists, choreographers,
filmmakers, and curators investigates the various histories of performance,
the plausibility of its repetition, and the urgency of its preservation.
Performance artists active during the 1970s are interviewed individually
about these issues, and younger artists discuss the impact of their legacy.

For more information, call the Box Office at (212) 423-3587.
Information at:
(scroll to bottom of page)http://www.guggenheim.org/education/tours_lectures.shtml


reviews of the forum (the re-enactments themselves will occur in October 2005):

Marina Abramovic Plays With Herself: Re-Performing Others, Engaging the Audience, by
Theresa Smalec:

"Her decision to repeat specific pieces that influenced her work by redoing their original scores provoked symposium panelists to ponder: "What does it mean to re-enact a performance that was only supposed to happen once?" This seemed like an abstract speculation until the Guggenheim's curator addressed Abramovic with a flustered expression and whispered, "Why re-perform Vito Acconci's Seedbed as a woman?" Nervous laughter emanated from the audience. Abramovic calmly replied, saying it was partly the "taboo element" that intrigued her, and partly the "sculptural element." Too young to have witnessed Acconci's 1972 performance, I desperately tried to visualize the nature of the piece that people were chuckling about. Seedbed sounded seedy, but in an exhilarating way. What specific actions were required to re-embody it?"


(Re)Performance at the Guggenheim, by Rodrigo Tisi:
"In the early days of performance art there was resistance to the idea of documentation, since the presence of a camera would rub up against the sacred fleeting moment of the event. But just as that pious attitude has faded, so too might the resistance to the idea of re-performance, and the merger of performance art with theater. There is a kind of brutal unsentimentality in the prospect of re-performance: performance art must admit that it is already a codified genre, without the marginal charm it once had. It's not a young discipline any more; it has to decide how it wants to grow up."


Reperforming the Score, by T. Nikki Cesare:
"The danger in this experiment lies in the subtle divide that occurs between composers and performers in Western classical music. That is, even though a woman's performance of Corporel might offer an entirely different reading of the piece, and even though the "open works" by such canonized composers as Cage, Boulez, Ligeti, and Stockhausen grant the performer more agency, allowing performance art to be defined by its originator rather than the body in the immediate moment of performance might not only compromise the sociopolitical context in which it is (re)performed, but also the autobiographical and intensely personal relationship between piece and performer, and performer and spectator. Perhaps the way to negotiate this divide is to re-evaluate both genres, establishing that the ephemerality that enables performance art to retain its political and personal impact also informs musical and theatrical, and visual art performance. The score, then, like the body, becomes the map by which the audience finds, or loses, their way. Either possibility opens up a Pandora's Box of opportunity."