AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
(Some) Theory and (Selected) Practice at the End of This Century
There is no agreement as to where, when, and why performance art was invented. I take this as an opening to advance my theory, which has appeared gradually to me through the murk over the last two decades, during which time I have established and piloted Franklin Furnace. While viewing the exhibition Futurism & Futurisms, presented in 1985 at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, I realized that the beginning of performance art might be fixed in that moment on July 8, 1910, when the Italian Futurist painters and poets threw eight hundred thousand copies of their broadside, "Against Passeist Venice," from the clock tower above Piazza San Marco onto the heads of law-abiding citizens.(1) The Futurists claimed Venice was "a great sewer of traditionalism"; a physical confrontation ensued, and, in my view, performance art was born.
Contemporary performance art still exhibits the traces of this art-historical moment in the following ways: Performance art is composed of (often confrontational) ideas; it takes place in "real" time; and the body is its irreducible medium, the locus where text and image intersect. Confrontation is apparent even in tamed, pay-your-money-sit-in-chairs performance art being practiced at this end of the century. In my experience, performance artists are not the kind of people who wish to be …