"It is my overall concern to reveal people as they are engaged in various kinds of activities—alone, with each other, with objects—and to weight the quality of the human body towards that of objects and away from the super-stylization of the dancer."
—Yvonne Rainer, STATEMENT accompanying The Mind is a Muscle, 1968
The cinematic has been a springboard for the work of many influential artists, including Victor Burgin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stan Douglas, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall, among others. Much recent cinema, meanwhile, is rich with references to contemporary photography. Video art has taken a photographic turn into pensive slowness; photography now has at its disposal the budgets and scale of cinema.
Caked in mud, bearing a lattice appendage of sticks attached to his back, wearing a headdress and a nylon mask, artist Kim Jones's alter ego Mudman began appearing on city streets, on the beach, and in galleries around Southern California in the 1970s. Jones emerged from the performance art movement, and the unsettling, itinerant figure of Mudman connected the abstract, formal investigations of process- and material-based artists with the intense physicality of body-based performances.
In this second "living novel" by Heather Woodbury, 50 years of New York and Los Angeles history collide in a live mix spun by Manny, a young DJ, in his dead grandmother's Echo Park apartment. Flashing back to 1957, when Brooklyn lost its home-team and LA's Chavez Ravine was razed to build the Dodgers a new stadium, Woodbury enacts a séance among three generations of interwoven characters on both coasts whose lives were changed forever by this single act of urban redevelopment.
Pioneering conceptual artist Vito Acconci began his career as a poet. In the 1960s, before beginning his work in performance and video art, Acconci studied at the Iowa Writers Workshop and published poems in journals and chapbooks. Almost all of this work remains unknown; much of it appeared in the self-produced magazines of the Lower East Side's mimeo revolution, and many other pieces were never published.
The body as an object of critical study dominates disciplines across the humanities to such an extent that a new discipline has emerged: body criticism. In Getting Under the Skin, Bernadette Wegenstein traces contemporary body discourse in philosophy and cultural studies to its roots in twentieth-century thought—showing how psychoanalysis, phenomenology, cognitive science, and feminist theory contributed to a new body concept—and studies the millennial body in performance art, popular culture, new media arts, and architecture.
In an age when scientists say they can no longer specify the exact difference between human and animal, living and dead, many contemporary artists have chosen to use animals in their work—as the ultimate "other," as metaphor, as reflection. The attempt to discover what is animal, not surprisingly, leads to a greater understanding of what it means to be human. In Becoming Animal, 12 internationally known artists investigate the shifting boundaries between animal and human. Their explorations may be a barometer of things to come.
Art made to attach to buildings or to be given away? Wearable art for street demonstrations or art that sets up a booth at a trade show? This is the art of the interventionists, who trespass into the everyday world to raise our awareness of injustice and other social problems. These artists don't preach or proselytize; they give us the tools to form our own opinions and create our own political actions. The Interventionists, which accompanies an exhibit at MASS MoCA, serves as a handbook to this new and varied work.
Carolee Schneemann is one of the pioneers of performance, installation, and video art. Although other visual artists, such as Salvador Dali and Yves Klein, had used live self-portraiture and performance as a vehicle for public provocation, Schneemann was among the first to use her body to animate the relationship between the world of lived experience and the imagination, as well as issues of the erotic, the sacred, and the taboo.
Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927) is considered by many to be the first American dadaist as well as the mother of dada. An innovator in poetic form and an early creator of junk sculpture, "the Baroness" was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances. Some thought her merely crazed, others thought her a genius.