Since my time in New York, I have suddenly become a performance artist. And this city is such a platform to perform, with its artistic opportunities and multitude of willing (and unwilling) audience members. As I’ve been fine tuning my concepts, I’ve found it enlightening to study iconic moments of this vast art form. And with technological accessibility provided by the internet, many of these seemingly fleeting moments can still viewed today.
- Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece
Performance art plays with confrontation. In Cut Piece, Ono sat on a stage, inviting audience members to approach her and cut pieces of her clothing off her body. This work becomes just as much about the audience’s participation as it does the artist, blurring social conventions of boundaries.
- Yves Klein’s Anthropometries
I am partial to an artist with an ego and Yves Klein pulled it off well. The man made, or more accurately, appropriated, a color and made the production of his works its own performance. With Klein’s Anthropometries, he orchestrates a multi medium artistic production where he conducts women coated in “his” blue to move against a canvas while the music he composed plays in the background.
- Pussy Riot’s “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away”
This Russian activist group’s 2012 performance of this song in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ led to three members of the group’s arrest. The band soon became a hot media topic and now has a global network of supporters. With Russia’s recent media presence, Pussy Riot’s topical commentary continues to get coverage.
- Andy Warhol’s life
This man lived his life with an exceptional awareness – of himself as a persona and the world surrounding him. He made Andy Warhol a brand. As Fran Lebowitz stated, “Andy Warhol made fame more famous.” And with an individual bringing performance to his everyday life, Warhol makes us question what is necessary to establish “performance.” The first video of Warhol that appears on youtube search is “Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger.” It is exactly what it says it is. And since it is Andy Warhol, take a moment to appreciate the product placement.
- Marina Abramovic’s The Artist is Present
The artist is present and her presence calls for acknowledgement. Marina Abramovic’s MoMA based piece featured her facing an empty chair where patrons sat and shared silent moments, locking eyes with the artist.
- Parade by Pablo Picasso & Ballet Russe
Parade is a moment of modernism at its finest. An interdisciplinary work of avant-garde, this ballet-opera is a combination of cubist costume and set design, unconventional sounds, and experimental dance.
- Laurie Anderson’s Drum Dance & Smoke Rings
This woman’s highly orchestrated works are a performance tour-de-force. Combining dance, music, theater, poetry, and presentation, Anderson creates a highly thought-provoking world within her acts. This piece questions social conventions, such as gender and government, while wrapping it all up in a melodic symphony of commentary.
Article by Taylor Zartman, NYAP participant and blogger.