Performa has just ended in New York and there is a review of the festival on the NY Times. The writer keeps mentioning "visual art performance" and Performa also uses this term to describe the works in the festival. Are other institutions using this phrase to describe performance art, contemporary performance, and just plane performance? What is your definition?

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I believe this a term Roselee coin$, it is also used rather frequently for funding opportunities and proposals....;)

I am afraid that while institutionalizing it may get some rather bizarre terms. For instance, I v been performing in Italy and they have referred in their catalog as ''Body Performers''.!!??

Somehow, I don't get it , as well as this term '' visual art performance '' . I have already defined what I am mostly concerned about in my work and it is all about ''Sein und Zeit'' from Martin Heideger or ''Being and Time''. ''Performance'' is still the only universal term we can use , despite whatever we do.

Visual Art Performance is a very limited term, as it desperately attempts to reduce performance as an art history lesson limiting its transformation in being and time.

Branko, I am so sorry to hear about the term "body performers,"

You are absolutely right CHOKRA , the only thing I really wanted to point out is the term established by Richard Wagner called : Gesamtkunstwerk , which means ''all art forms gathered together'' and it was in the end of the 19th Century.

I believe a good work shall be a good work , doesn't matter how the historians and art critics call it , and they will always find another term appropriate to their sensibility and frustration but hell yeah, it's their job at last to write and gather some money to make it possible, or I am too romantic to believe in that.

xx B

Oh yes, Gesamtkunstwerk inspired the enitre Art Nouveau period, as this overwhelming integration of art. It has so much historicity.

A good work is indeed a good work even without declaration. Historians and those desperate writers indeed have a sensibility, which perhaps keeps adjusting itself to a monetary condition/al, and they are constantly seeking terms, like vampire "curators" - incompetent to the utmost degree. They might try fumble with new languages, some post-structuralist nonsense to validate their love for language, but i strongly believe it is a sought totality, like you said in "being and time," maybe an index, but an articulation that is not irreducible, like the nonsense of "body performers" or "visual art performance" for that matter/ or in matter.


Perhaps this is too reductionist, but I've always just considered "visual" theater, or performance one that places more of an emphasis on the visual component.  Western theater is so text driven that a term like "visual" necessary.  Would it be safe to say that Lecoq-based physical theater (which is a nice mixture of east/west, body/mind, text/image) has matured and visual theater is one of its offspring?

I guess I'm a traditionalist in that I would call it theater. As Peter Brook put it, (I paraphrase) anytime at least one live person performs something for at least one other live person, that's theater. My POV on the terms "body art", "performance art" or "time-based art" are that they are all forms of performance, and therefore theater. The difference is usually the heritage of the theorist or performer. Chris Burdon and Marina Abromovic were trained as visual artists, but crossed over into performance, which is why they're referred to as performance artists. This is still theater, but the goals derive themselves from extensions of the theories of visual arts. A painting is a piece of visual art, while watching someone paint is theater. The fact that the word theater has implications that are traditionalist and extremely conservative doesn't mean the word shouldn't be treated as flexible enough to include "performance art".

Chris B., actor, director, composer...performance artist.

I suspect the only reason journalists are parroting the term "v.a.p." is because they're going off of the Performa press releases verbatim.  

stop trying to make fetch happen!" - Regina, Mean Girls

I'm a big fan of Wagner's gesamt', but not feeling that a lot of the work in Performa was about that. It makes me wonder if using any variation of the word "perform" takes us off the mark. I've mostly heard this discussed from the theater side, so in addition to hearing how RoseLee's came up with her term, I would love to hear more visual artists' take on this labeling. After looking into the art piece where the guy shot himself in the arm, ouch!, I started to like Live Art as my term of choice. For the very reason that it doesn't have any "perform" in it. Brook would probably say that shooting oneself in the arm is still a performance, and I understand the rationale, but the art part of the shooting was not about performing at all, it was about the act. It was visual art that just happened to involve a live person instead of paint or clay, so put me down for Live Art. I'm sure that Franklin Furnace is not the only place where I've seen that term used.

I've heard this term especially in UK many times. There are university courses of Visual Performance there... I suppose it comes from genealogical connection of PA with Fine Arts, often identified with Visual Arts... Generally, in my own opinion it is a methodological mistake, and a verbal misinterpretation. I never seen anything I may call "visual performance" in definition, because performance art practice is intermedia like in nature and poly-sensory... By another way - for many, the term performance is related to music, it's a synonym of concert. Then "visual performance" may have - maybe - a sense of a spectacle of another kind.

...and maybe one thing more...

For many people almost everything is defined in a term and notion of theatre. Life is a theatre, world is a theatre, when standing on the front of a picture is a theatre, and so on. For others everything is painting. For others - music... And so on... And performance art is used very often by the same way, but at the same time for some is theatre, and for some is painting ;-) In my own practice I am absolutely sure I am not engaged in theatre nor painting, sculpture, music, etc... And I am using the term of "performamce art" especially because that. 

If it may help to somebody...

I agree with Artur that there is a politics operating in the terminology. I can see why, especially in the US context, Roselee would want to use “visual art performance” to distinguish the practice from The Performing Arts - theatre, dance, music and opera - which is what most Americans think of when they think of performance. But while she’s performing this educational function she’s making a big historical and conceptual mistake. I think that more covertly, there is a wish on the part of some to identify performance art with visual art in order to place it in the economy of the commodifiable, collectible and museumable. This forced art historical lineage from visual art - painting and sculpture - denies contemporary performance’s strong roots in numerous sources as diverse as dance, film, and political protest - or in any other practice in which artists have run up against the limits of a discipline and pushed through into performance.








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