Performance art is a genre of art where the artists showcase and put forward their ideas and intentions through a live performance. The performance art can be scripted or unscripted, can be random or have an algorithm or a pattern to follow, it can involve audience as a part of the performance itself or the audience can be a silent observer.
Performance art flourished in the 1960s, right after the decline of modernism and abstract expressionism.
Often , artists reach a point when they may feel restricted with traditional forms of art as they may be too static, often due to its 2d nature. But with performance art you include the third dimension (space ), and most importantly , also the fourth dimension ,ie time. Performance art can thus be generally characterized by 4 elements, space, time , the artist , the relationship with the audience.
A performance thus, due to its dynamic nature, can put forward intentions and ideas in a much stronger way, as performance arts have the ability to stir up strong emotions within the audience. A performance art can thus be called as an active or a dynamic form of art, unlike paintings or instillations which can be characterized as passive. One thing to performance art is different from theatre, which is a carefully orchestrated , scripted play , where the audience is a silent observer.
Rhythm 10 (1973)
Artwork description & Analysis: In Rhythm 10, Abramovic uses a series of 20 knives to quickly stab at the spaces between her outstretched fingers. Every time she pierces her skin, she selects another knife from those carefully laid out in front of her. Halfway through, she begins playing a recording of the first half of the hour-long performance, using the rhythmic beat of the knives striking the floor, and her hand, to repeat the same movements, cutting herself at the same time. This piece exemplifies Abramovic’s use of ritual in her work, and demonstrates what the artist describes as the synchronicity between the mistakes of the past and those of the present.
– Performed at a festival in Edinburgh