After a full day of Venice museum visits with museum curators and directors, we regrouped for our routine group book discussions. This discussion was on the book Performance Art by Roselee Goldberg, which looks at different types of performance art. Examples of physical representations of performance art were raised in our discussion, including Yves Klein’s Anthropométrie Bleue, where the movement and gesture of the human form is captured in the end result, an idea similar to the Futurism’s Movement Photography which captured movement in a single photograph. Another example of a different approach was Ei Arakawa See Weeds exhibit of 2011, which recorded the movement of the performance in plan and painted it on a canvas.
The representation of an art form as time-dependent as performance art was a key point in the conversation. How do we document and represent this interactive and spatial art form? Is a 2 dimensional photograph or recording of the work appropriate? Is a 2d mapping of the spatial movements appropriate? On the one hand, there is a unique and intimate condition in allowing performance art pieces to flourish in their setting and not be moved beyond- as to create an individual and unreplicable experience. This can be perceived as refreshing in the current consumerist art market. Marina Abramović was raised as an example of a performance artist who has been critiqued for the commercialisation of the art form, although having begun her profession with a raw, and individualistic quality of unexpected locations and lesser known performances. Today’s common practice of selling performance copyrights furthermore blur the lines between performance art and more commercial playwriting.
On the other hand, however, without photographs and recordings of performance art pieces, the public would have no method of being informed of this art form. Photographs in this instance serve the purpose of engaging a public with the art form.
Performance art is a fascinating form of art whose complex non physical nature allows for a less than straight forward discussion.