Performance Art


Chris Burden at the New Museum

This October, the New Museum will present “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures,” an expansive presentation of Chris Burden’s work that is the artist’s first New York survey and his first major exhibition in the US in over twenty-five years.

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Carrie Mae Weems Afro Chic

Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video

Carrie Mae Weems is a socially motivated artist whose works invite contemplation on issues surrounding race, gender and class. Increasingly, she has broadened her view to include global struggles for equality and justice.

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Rebecca Horn Unicorn-1970

Rebecca Horn: Body Art, Performance & Installations

Since the beginning of the 1970s, Rebecca Horn has been creating an oeuvre which constitutes an ever-growing flow of performances, films, sculptures, spatial installations, drawings and photographs

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State of Mind at the Berkeley Art Museum

State of Mind: New California Art circa 1970 offers the first in-depth survey of Conceptual art and related avant-garde activities in both Northern and Southern California during a pivotal period in contemporary art.

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Mariko Mori: Cybergeishas, technonolgy and religion

The Japanese-born artist Mariko Mori, creates work featuring  cybergeishas and other Manga-influenced characters. Moriko Mori has long made art characterized by a sci-fi sensibility that seems ineluctably linked to the city and the future. Her work also touches on a number of subjects like adolescent fantasy, narcissism, pop culture, religion & fashion.

Mori is fascinated by the way contemporary Japanese society balances technology, fantasy, and humanity. With an affectionate perspective on her native country, she explores the way fantasy and reality overlap in contemporary Japanese consciousness. Hers is a world where cartoon characters step out of comic books to stalk the real streets and real people withdraw from their grim routine to lose themselves in cartoon fantasies.

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Carlos Amorales Vs. Amorales Interim

Growing out of a series of experiments with the mask, a fictional character behind a mask called ‘Amorales’ was created and lent to different individuals to perform in various situations where it was continuously emptied and filled up again with different ‘contents’ working almost invisibly, as a catalyst, within restricted frameworks. Using fictional identity as a ‘working tool’ Carlos Amorales found Mexican wrestling (lucha libre) offering that complex but flexible structure that helped him to develop his experiments further. The black and white reincarnations of confronting powers of Evil and Good exposed the archetypal aspects of relevant social and political positions.

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Staging Action: Performance in Photography at MOMA

Official Website:
January 28–May 9, 2011

The Robert and Joyce Menschel Photography Gallery, third floor

Performance art is generally experienced live, but what documents it and ensures its enduring life is, above all, photography. Yet photography plays a constitutive role, not merely a documentary one, when performance is staged expressly for the camera (often in the absence of an audience), and the images that result are recordings of an event but also autonomous works of art. The pictures in this exhibition, selected from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, exemplify the complex and varied uses artists have devised for photography in the field of performance since the 1960s.

Many artists have experimented with the camera to test the physical and psychological limits of the body. Not all performances exert such dire demands on the body, although many have entailed a sustained emotional engagement on the part of the artists: Bas Jan Ader photographed himself crying for the camera, and Adrian Piper used photography to chronicle a physical and mental state induced by fasting and writing in isolation.

Adrian Piper
Food for the Spirit. 1971.
Gelatin silver prints, printed 1997, 14 1/2 x 14 3/4″ (36.8 x 37.5 cm) each.

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Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla at MOMA

Official Website:
December 8, 2010–January 10, 2011
Performances take place hourly starting at 11:30 a.m. every day the Museum is open.

For the ninth installment of the Performance Exhibition Series, the artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla present Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008).

For this piece, the artists carved a hole in the center of a grand piano, through which a pianist plays the famous Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, usually referred to as “Ode to Joy.” The performer leans over the keyboard and plays upside down and backwards, while moving with the piano across the vast atrium.

Performance 9

The result is a structurally incomplete version of the ode—the hole in the piano renders two octaves inoperative—that fundamentally transforms both the player/instrument dynamic and the signature melody, underlining the contradictions and ambiguities of a song that has long been invoked as a symbol of humanist values and national pride.

antoni loving care

Janine Antoni: Loving Care & Lick and Lather

Janine Antoni was born in Freeport, Bahamas in 1964. Antoni’s work blurs the distinction between performance art and sculpture. Transforming everyday activities such as eating, bathing, and sleeping into ways of making art, Antoni’s primary tool for making sculpture has always been her own body. She has chiseled cubes of lard and chocolate with her teeth, washed away the faces of soap busts made in her own likeness, and used the brainwave signals recorded while she dreamed at night as a pattern for weaving a blanket the following morning.

“I mopped the floor with my hair…The reason I’m so interested in taking my body to those extreme places is that that’s a place where I learn, where I feel most in my body. I’m really interested in the repetition, the discipline, and what happens to me psychologically when I put my body to that extreme place.”

Loving Care

loving care
“Loving Care”
The artist soaked her hair in hair dye and mopped the floor with it.

lick and lather
Lick and Lather
7 soap and 7 chocolate self-portrait busts, 24 x 16 x 13 inches each

“I wanted to work with the tradition of self-portraiture but also with the classical bust…I had the idea that I would make a replica of myself in chocolate and in soap, and I would feed myself with my self, and wash myself with my self. Both the licking and the bathing are quite gentle and loving acts, but what’s interesting is that I’m slowly erasing myself through the process. So for me it’s about that conflict, that love/hate relationship we have with our physical appearance, and the problem I have with looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘Is that who I am?’”


Lipstick display; lipstick made with pigment, beeswax and chewed lard removed from lard “Gnaw,” and heart-shaped packaging tray for chocolates made from chewed chocolate removed from chocolate “Gnaw”.

“All of my objects sort of walk the line between sculpture, performance, and relic. Any time I use performance, it’s not so much my interest in performance but my interest in bringing you back to the making.”


Ene-Liis Semper: Psycho-Physical Performances

In her video work and performances, Ene-Liis Semper focuses on her own psycho-physical experience. Semper’s work refutes recent strategies employed in video and film work, which attempt to show reality directly as a series of unmediated images. Semper possesses a definite aesthetic position that serves as an oasis ­ to borrow a metaphor from the title of one of her works ­ an unexpected visual spectacle in the context of the contemporary desert of images.

Ene-Liis Semper points the camera at the intimacies of her personal life, observing subtleties of psychological and bodily experiences. Nevertheless, the final sequence of images is far removed from recent artistic strategies which show reality directly as an unmediated image, as if seen through surveillance or web cameras.

licked room

Having graduated from theatre art and design, Semper is clearly familiar with, on the one hand, strategies of staging, the progression of narratives and the building of dramatic undertones, and, on the other, the reinforcing role of visuality, its potentials and impacts. In her creative undertakings Semper distills the best of both fields ­ theatre and visual arts

Ene-Liis Semper likes to cast herself in the leading role. Whether the Estonian artist is testing out different methods for suicide (as in FF/REW, 1998) or living out hygienic obsessions in a white-tiled space (Licked Room, 2000), her concrete physical presence as an engaged body is the basis for videos that take their measure from reality.

licked room

Semper’s classic Oasis, 1999, seen at the Venice Biennale that year, in which a blossoming flower, together with its soil, is planted in Semper’s mouth–portraying the fusion of nature and the human body.


“Usually, I do not make stories about my real life,” the artist says. “Mainly my works are more like mental ‘results’ of my living here and now, not quotes of everyday situations, but I just could not resist the temptation to make a video of the situation I was in a couple of months ago with my very first baby, my beloved partner, and myself. The banality of the situation cut me out of my confiding happiness.”

Haunted: Contemporary Photography,Video & Performance

Guggenheim Museum, New York
Part I: March 26–September 6, 2010
Part II: June 4–September 1, 2010

Much of contemporary photography and video seems haunted by the past, by the history of art, by apparitions that are reanimated in reproductive mediums, live performance, and the virtual world. By using dated, passé, or quasi-extinct stylistic devices, subject matter, and technologies, such art embodies a longing for an otherwise unrecuperable past.


Christian Boltanski
Autel de Lycee Chases, 1986-87

From March 26 to September 6, 2010, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, an exhibition that documents this obsession, examining myriad ways photographic imagery is incorporated into recent practice. Drawn largely from the Guggenheim’s extensive photography and video collections, Haunted features some 100 works by nearly 60 artists, including many recent acquisitions that will be on view at the museum for the first time. The exhibition is installed throughout the rotunda and its spiraling ramps, with two additional galleries on view from June 4 to September 1, featuring works by two pairs of artists to complete Haunted’s presentation.

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