Histories of Performance Art
In 1971, UC Irvine graduate Chris Burden was shot in the arm with a gun in front of a small audience; this act has become a classic in the history of performance art. How might we understand this gesture of physical violence as art? And what does it mean to "perform" art rather than to make a physical object (such as a painting or sculpture)? This lecture course provides an overview of such acts in the 20th century, starting with experimental Futurist theater and ending with contemporary works that are performed both in and out of the art institution. Among other topics, we will examine the ethics of audience participation, the uncertain status of documentation, the critical use of the body by feminist and queer artists, and the political possibilities of liveness. While we will look at examples from around the globe (particularly Asia and Latin America), special emphasis will also be given to California as an important catalyst for performance art.