A Very Brief and Biased History


“A Very Brief and Biased History of Performance Art” is an exercise that allows students to come up with proposals for unorthodox re-workings of past performance pieces, without being hindered by having to actually make them. Firstly, I describe and show documentation from 5 performances, one for each decade from the 60s to today, for example:

  • Lea Lublin, Mon Fils My Son (1968) Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
  • Marina Abramovic, Role Exchange (1976), De Appel Gallery and Red Light District, Amsterdam
  • Allan Kaprow Piece for Coryl’s Birthday (1985), San Diego, California
  • Vanessa Beecroft VB16 Piano Americano (11 January 1996), Deitch Projects, New York
  • Vaginal Davis Cheap Blacky (2007), originally made for a Bruce la Bruce Performance at Hebbel Theatre, Berlin – now available for viewing on Youtube.

Dividing the group into five teams, each are in charge of writing down the following details from the short lecture on the works:

  • Artist(s)/Performer(s)/Identity
  • Context/Location(s)
  • Duration
  • Audience(s)
  • Object(s)
  • Media

They then have to come up with a written proposal to re-enact the assigned work by changing as many of these aspects of the piece as they wish. Because the task is to create only the proposal and not the actual performance this means that students can re-imagine the piece(s) in radical ways.