Performance Art (as) Theory

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Performance Art (as) Theory

The development of performance art (performance, happening, action, situation etc.) was determined from its very beginning by aesthetic debates. These were not only debates about the new genre; they were also carried out within aesthetic practice itself. This applies in particular to Eastern Europe, where in many countries neither public critique nor an accompanying theoretical debate on performance art could take place. Rather, theoretical issues were integrated into performance art itself by realizing performances about performance art, meta-performances so to speak, as shown, for instance, by the Moscow group „Collective actions“. Dealing with theory as presented, discussed and negotiated by performance art itself, there are also other genres which come into play: discussion performances, anti-performances or performance parody – to mention just a few examples.

Within this research area we plan to publish a book which collects texts and performance documentations that represent the scope of theoretical discussions on performance art between 1950 and 1990. It is important for us to show that these theoretical debates took place in a continuous dialogue and interconnectedness with parallel theoretical debates in the West. The book also intends to draw attention to a multitude of genres in which theoretical approaches were articulated: manifestoes, letters and artist correspondences, performances, commentaries, conversations etc.

In March 2018 we start with our series “Performance Art (as) Theory” at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich (our first guests are Branislav Jakovljevic with «Walter Who?: The End of Art or the End of the Artist?», in English (15.3.2018), Rebecca Schneider (5.6.2018), Adam Czirak (25.10.2018)


Photo credits
Július Koller, „Antihappening“, 1965,
Grupa 143, Poster for “Seminar” performance series, November 8-11, 1978, Student Cultural Center (SKC) Belgrade. Archive of Student Cultural Center.
Collective Actions (Kollektivnye deystviya): Appearance (Poyavlenye), 1976,