About my Workshop “Exploring Performance Art”
I am sometimes asked about the content of my workshops. Therefore I would like to try to explain some things here. The enclosed photos are all from my workshop at the Zabih Festival in Lviv in May 2019. Maybe they can illustrate some of the things I said.. I always document the workshops myself, the photos are of course released by the artists depicted on them.
This will probably be a somewhat longer text – unfortunately I can’t get it any shorter.
Accordingly this will be a story with sequels. Depending on my temporal possibilities I would like to give here one or the other thought to the best bit by bit.
This isn’t about a new theory about performance art. The described theoretical background is probably known to all. But perhaps it is interesting for some to see how this theoretical level can be translated into a body-oriented work on performative images.
First of all I would like to emphasize, although it goes without saying that my approach to performance is only a small part of the variety of this genre of art. So, when I talk about Performance Art, I mean this small excerpt in the following. This has nothing to do with a weighting that one approach is superior to the other. That’s not the case. Only in the context of a workshop does it make sense to concentrate on one approach, otherwise you get lost and may not really be able to work in depth.
My approach is actually very traditional. Performance Art is therefore a genre of the fine arts. Material is processed and transformed. The material is the body, maybe the body or maybe even better the personality of the artist. Everything that defines him as a person has inscribed itself into the body of the actor: his personal history, the history of his ethnic group, his concrete circumstances, his social status, the circumstances of his gender, his relationships, his consumption. Perhaps all this can be summarized in the umbrella term psycho-social, cultural identity.
Ever since Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” at the latest, published in 1990, we have known that this identity is a social construct and thus the most important arena of power-political discourses. At this point I like to use the terms social and gender codes: There is not a single square millimeter on our body that is not coded: beautiful, ugly, effective, feminine, male, public, private, intimate, etc. And thus our body has become and continues to become an extremely effective material of a performative attribution with an endless tradition of corresponding activities: Carolee Schneemann, Valie Export, Ulay&Abramović, Yoko Ono, Vito Acconci – to name but a few.
My workshops are all about recognising this material. Each personality is constructed differently and accordingly the material to be discovered is different.
Whereby it is important to me that we do not work through the concepts but start from personal experiences. When we speak, we move in concepts. Language is always a concept. In this respect, the workshop is also a translation process: from the idea/concept to a personal experience.
That’s why I always start my workshops with very movement-intensive actions. Out of the mind, into the body. And then I give the settings that activate the codes. The “codes” always appear when the accepted boundaries are attacked or crossed, for example when you touch each other in an inadmissible way. In general, all actions that touch the agreements on questions of sexuality and eroticism, or the related questions of private versus public versus intimate, are extremely effective in terms of their feedback. They express themselves in shame, embarrassment, in the feedback of the inner voice like: “What do the others think of me now?” or, more perfidiously, “Why naked? Nudity is a theme of the eighties in performance” etc…
The transgression of societal settings regarding aggression, politically and gender correct behaviour also results in immediate feedback.
Thus the actor experiences his supposed identity as a construct of social concepts and specifications and can explore this as possible material for a performative image.
to be continued … ?