Performance Art

University isn’t just about the hum drum, day-to-day, get up go to class, in one ear and out the other type of learning. It’s about understanding and absorbing the information, applying it to your surroundings, contextualizing it and that is when you truly learn. Just about all of my classes this semester overlap with one another, referencing the same topics, but accessing them from all sorts of different angles.

I’m writing this post because I wanted to share some of the things I’ve been “learning” about in my visual arts class. It is a conceptual art class so the main purpose is to explore, construct and deconstruct meaning. What is art? Ahh the age old question…. that will unfortunately never be answered, not in this class at least. But anyways, the point is to get you thinking. It isn’t supposed to make much sense and you aren’t supposed to be comfortable. The class works to push you and honestly, although its a real pain in the ass, that is the only way you’ll ever learn. So despite my late night rant sessions to my poor roommate about VISA 183, I did indeed learn something.

One of the areas we covered and one that I was most interested in was within the realm of contemporary performance art. Performance art is a relatively new practice but it began in the 60s, gaining popularity in the 70’s. It was not considered theater, it was live art and artists in this movement emphasized the act of performing as something that was non-tangible.  Unlike other work that was going on around it, performance art sought to challenge the commodifcation process of art-making. This type of art was not about the money it could generate but rather, the pure experience.

All cannot be said without mentioning one of the foregrounding performing artists of this time, Marina Abramović’. Abramović’ works a lot with her audience, testing their limits, while further exploring ideas of the body and mind. Recently, in 2010, Marina’s work was exhibited at the MOMA in New York City. The exhibit was titled “The Artist is Present” and involved a revolutionary live piece where the artist herself was open to interact with the audience in a unique way. It is something you have to see for yourself so I will not try to explain, but I have uploaded excerpts from the corresponding documentary “The Artist is Present,” below so you can get a glimpse.

If you’re still interested or want to learn more about some contemporary work going on today, click here. And I highly encourage you to get a hold of “The Artist is Present” so you can watch the entire documentary.

If you have any further questions about VISA 183, a first year visual arts course offered here at UBC, don’t hesitate to ask!

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