Back to THE HISTORY OF THE FUTUREFall 1999/ Winter 2000
THE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE

Friday, October 15, 1999 The Body as Art Medium:
Tehching Hsieh, "OneYear Performance, April 11, 1980-April 11, 1981"; Tari Ito, "Face: Memory of the Epidermis"; Jill Scott, "Taped."

Because it is embedded in the body, performance art takes time itself to be its primary subject. (Unfortunately, "performance art" is not a very good term for what artists do to embody ideas; "Body Art" was a term that was popular in the 70s, but it didn't stick. Plus, much performance art in the U.S. at least, borrowed from theatrical conventions and got listed under Theater instead of Performance Art - but that's another story.) I believe the body is the only new art medium of the 20th century, and time is its prime attribute (how's that for a bold statement!) The artists who use their bodies as an art medium are descended from the Italian Futurists, a very unpopular group that nevertheless introduced some ideas that performance artists are still exploring, since performance art is comprised of (often confrontational) ideas, takes place in "real" time, and the body is its irreducible medium, the locus where image and text intersect.

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