Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Dance) Honours

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Maggi Phillips

Abstract

This thesis is a study into performance art, specifically examples of work in which the artist engages with a physical object or visual arts medium to create a work of art in the presence of an audience. The subsequent work of art created can vary from works on paper, to living structures, or any other physical and tangible structure. I have addressed the audience demographic of performance art, the genre’s conceptual genesis, its ephemeral nature, and its commoditisation to analyse its relevance to the current artistic climate. During my study, an importance has been placed on live performance, not on dance or visual arts specifically, but where the divide between the two is blurred.

I have established a historical timeline of performance art relevant to the genre of performance I am discussing and made reference to various artists, arts movements and institutions that have influenced the development of performance art from the late 19th century to present. These artists and movements include Futurism, Dada, the Bauhaus, Oskar Schlemmer, Yves Klein, Joseph Beuys, the Judson Dance Group, Inhobodress, the Experimental Art Foundation, and Marina Abramović.

Generally my findings conclude that performance art and work of this genre resists finite definition and, furthermore, that doing such would not be useful for any purpose. I have recognised, however, that this study presents important questions in relation to the sustainability of performance art practice and that the commoditisation of this undefined genre could lead to greater wealth within the performance art community.

In the initial outset of this study, I proposed to carry out my own work of performance art and collect qualitative data in correspondence. It has proved more valuable for this stage of my research to base my findings on the work of others, as without this foundation of knowledge and analysis the research has provided, the personal generation of art for the purpose of research would be unwise and somewhat naive. A future deeper study into this genre and the sustainability of performance art through a Masters Degree or higher would be an appropriate platform for such data collection.

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