Performance is a genre in which art is presented “live,” usually by the artist but sometimes with collaborators.

Performance art is highly reliant on on the three foundations, time, space and audience. The absenteeism of any one of the three makes thereby make the performance a failure. The ‘performer’ is the one responsible for this trio. The performance is his, the audience is whom HE invites and the base and time is what he chooses at his convenience.

The performance might be completely prearranged or impulsive. We gather that from the reaction of the audience and the space where it is performed. However the beauty of performance art is that according to me when it is truly successful is when there is an element of spontaneity in the performers act.

Shoot (1971)

Artist: Chris Burden

In many of his early 1970s performance pieces, Burden put himself in danger during a particular performance. This would then put the viewer in a challenging position.

The audience would be caught between a humanitarian instinct to intrude versus the offense of touching and interacting with artworks.

To perform Shoot, Burden stood in front of a wall while one friend shot him in the arm with a .22 long rifle, and another friend documented the event with a camera.

It was performed in front of a small, private audience. One of Burden’s most infamous and powerful performances, it hints upon the idea of martyrdom, and the notion that the artist may play a role in society as a kind of victim.

It might also speak to issues of gun control and this is extremely relevant to the period of time it took place in which is that of the Vietnam War.


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