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Performance art

It loosely refers to a non-traditional art form often with political and topical themes that typically features a live presentation by the artist to an audience or onlookers (as on a street) and draws on other art forms. Used for the first time in the 60s, it referred to the many live events taking place at the time. In this art form the artist’s body becomes a medium of expression. These are powerful expressions of the pain of human existence and complex allegories of social and political issues and man’s relation to nature and life. These artists attempted to bring in to the visual discourse experientiality and lived reality, communicated through the body. It is simultaneously startling and banal, absurd and disturbing, most often than not making the onlooker feel like a voyeur. It taps into the most basic shared instincts: the physical and psychological needs for food, sex, work, love, money, ritual, etc., blurring the distinction between the private and the political. It vivifies a dialogue between art and life. Performance artists also represented a challenge to conventional art forms and cultural norms by creating transient art experience that cannot be captured or purchased. For this reason the art form remains ephemeral lasting only for the duration of the performance. It remains accessible through photographs and video recording.

Further Reading

Performance: Live art since the 60s, RoseLee Goldberg

The Analysis of Performance Art: A Guide to its Theory and Practice, Anthony Powell

Performance Studies: An Introduction, Richard Schechner


Nikhil chopra, inside out, 2012, duration: 99 Hours, Galeria Continua, San Gimignano