When people think of art, they typically imagine a painting, drawing or sculpture. Perhaps they even think of music, dance or theater. Somewhere in between, though, lies a powerful and widely overlooked medium: performance art.
Performance art can be easily mistaken for drama or dance, or perhaps even complete absurdity. However, despite (or maybe because of) all of its eccentricities, performance art is a deeply eﬀective medium for those who wish to make a statement.
Unlike theater, performance art does not typically have key components of a drama, like dialogue or a plot. Often, it is people performing in provocative ways that sends a message and draws attention to their point. According to TheArtStory.org, many artists turn to performance art when they “become discontented with conventional forms of art” and use it “to rejuvenate their work.”
According to The Art Story, the medium was popularized after the 1960s and largely focused on the body. Performance art has been known for its typically anarchist ﬂ air and its role in the futurist and dada movements. According to The Art Story, the medium was also on the front lines of the feminist movement.
For example, Yoko Ono’s 1964 performance titled, Cut Piece, invited audience members to cut oﬀ pieces of fabric from her clothing. She stood on stage as people approached her and slowly snipped away at her clothes in order to make a statement about the objectiﬁcation of women in art.
By forcing audience members to actively participate in her art, Ono was more eﬀectively able to convey her message to them. Her already powerful statement became so much clearer to her audience because of their role in her piece.
Though performance art was highly popular decades ago, the medium is alive and well today. Artists still choose to express themselves, their dreams and their beliefs through these remarkable displays.
Performance art came to the area with the Fringe Festival, an annual, self-proclaimed “citywide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance.” The event boasts over 1,000 “daring performances.” Though admission is around $40 per person, there are alternatives for those who prefer their art on a budget. The Free Fringe Philly Festival welcomes all artists to perform in their own version of the Fringe Festival. In many ways the events are highly similar; however, Free Fringe Philly does not charge admission. On their website, it states, “The original spirit of the fringe festival is making art accessible (free),” and that they “are bringing that back.”
Performance art is a dynamic and impactful medium with a deep history and continued presence in modern society. Though it may not be the most popular art form, its value remains important in our culture.