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Article

American, 20th century, male.

Born 24 January 1940, in New York.

Painter, sculptor, performance artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Body Art, Conceptual Art.

Vito Acconci was born in the Bronx, New York and lives and works in Brooklyn. He studied at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts and at the University of Iowa. He has taught in various art schools and universities and in particular at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University and the Parsons School of Design in New York....

Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Washington, AR, July 10, 1940).

Native American Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, and video artist. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1972. After his return to the USA he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and played an active part in the American Indian Movement; he also served from 1975 to 1979 as the executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council in New York. He left both organizations in 1980. Durham’s sculptures and installations can be seen against a background of activism, in which he records the plight of Native Americans in the face of Western colonial culture. His sculptures, bricolages of found objects, often take the form of vivid anthropomorphic constructions, appearing as ironic fetishes in an ethnographic display. Durham often includes words that provide witty if inconclusive suggestions of the type of protest that he is staging, as in the wall-mounted work ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 27 September 1965, in Billings (Montana).

Installation artist, performance artist, video artist, writer. Multimedia.

Andrea Fraser studied at the School for Visual Arts (1982(1983) and at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York (...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 18 June 1960, in New York City.

Performance artist, writer, art historian, curator. Multimedia, video, film, Internet art. Multiculturalism, feminism.

Coco Fusco studied semiotics at Brown University (1982) and received a MA in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (...

Article

Canadian partnership of conceptual artists working as performance artists, video artists, photographers and sculptors. It was formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson [pseud. of Michael Tims] (b Vancouver, 1946), Felix Partz [pseud. of Ron Gabe] (b Winnipeg, 1945) and Jorge Zontal [pseud. of Jorge Saia] (b Parma, Italy, 1944; d Feb 1994). Influenced by semiotics and working in various media, they sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. Their existence as a group, each with an assumed name, itself undermined the traditional notion of the solitary artist of genius. In 1972 they began publishing a quarterly journal, File, to publicize their current interests and work. In the 1970s they concentrated on beauty parades, starting in 1970 with the 1970 Miss General Idea Pageant, a performance at the Festival of Underground Theatre in Toronto that mocked the clichés surrounding the beauty parade, resulting in the nomination of Miss General Idea ...

Article

Revised and updated by Margaret Barlow

(b Urbana, IL, March 31, 1942).

American performance artist, video artist, and writer. Graham founded the Daniels Gallery in New York and was its director from 1964 to 1965; there he came into contact with Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd. This led him to question the gallery structure and the art displayed and to experiment with conceptual art. From 1965 to 1969 he produced a series of works published in magazines, such as Schema (1966; Brussels, Daled priv. col., see 1988 exh. cat., p. 9). This series consisted merely of a descriptive list of its own contents, including the number of words, and so referred to nothing beyond itself, unlike Minimalist art that he believed referred to the surrounding display space. Furthermore, the magazine was, unlike a gallery, clearly related to time and change through its regular appearance and topicality.

From 1969 to 1978 Graham was primarily involved with performance, film, and video. His first performance took place at the Loeb Student Center at New York University in ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1956, in Lima (Ohio).

Performance artist, installation artist, photographer, video artist. Multimedia.

Ann Hamilton studied at the University of Kansas, and at Yale (geology, sculpture and textiles). She lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. A multimedia artist, her earliest shows featured numerous performance works in complex, often vast environments. Her installations are conceived as 'temporal intersections', incorporating the cultural history, geography and socio-economic characteristics of a particular site. Her work engages every area of the human experience, based on the principle that an object should 'take physical possession' of the viewer, before an attempt is made to name it (and hence to 'pin it down'). Each installation implicates a specific sensory environment and highly personal gestures. In ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1941, in Cleveland (Ohio).

Photographer, video artist, digital artist, performance artist.

Lynn Hershman studied at the Case Western Reserve University, graduating with a BA in Education, Museum Administration and Fine Arts in 1963. In 1972 she obtained a Master's degree in Fine Art from San Francisco State University. In the 1970s Hershman created a series of pseudonyms, including the art critics invented for her Master's dissertation, ...

Article

Cecile Johnson

(b New York, July 13, 1936).

American performance and video artist, film maker, draughtsman, and printmaker. She studied sculpture and art history at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA (1954–8). In 1958 Jonas travelled to Europe before studying sculpture at the Boston Museum School (1959–61) and various subjects at Columbia University (MFA 1964). She was particularly influenced by her experience of the New York art scene in the early to mid-1960s and by the work of John Cage and Claes Oldenburg and their interest in ‘non-linear’ structure. Believing any potential for innovation in sculpture and painting to be exhausted, Jonas turned to the relatively unexplored area of performance art. Her early performances (1968–71), called Mirror Pieces, were held in large spaces and included large and small mirrors, either as a central motif or as props or costume elements. From the early 1970s her works became increasingly symbolic, game-like, and ritualistic: in, for example, ...

Article

Daniel E. Mader

(b New York, Jan 7, 1953).

American painter, draughtsman, sculptor, video artist, and performance artist. He received his BFA (1975) from the State University College in Buffalo, NY, with a professed ambition to reach the largest possible audience. Living this prophetic statement throughout his more than 30-year career, Longo first achieved fame in the 1980s with a series of large-scale drawings in charcoal and graphite entitled Men in the Cities (New York, Metro Pictures). These images were life-size human figures in isolation or in groups, wherein the power struggles created a menacing atmosphere.

During the late 1980s he was increasingly involved with film, directing Arena Brains (30 minutes, 1988) and later Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves (98 minutes, 1995). A regular international exhibitor, often using both controversial and intimidating scale, he exhibited a 1993 drawing series Bodyhammers: The Cult of the Gun (New York, Metro Pictures; Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac). He exhibited in the Venice Biennale (...

Article

Susan S. Weininger

(b Havana, Nov 18, 1948; d New York, Sept 8, 1985).

American sculptor, performance artist, video artist, and painter of Cuban birth. From the age of 13, when she was sent to the USA from Cuba by her parents, she lived in orphanages and foster homes in Iowa. Her sense of exile and the separation from her family proved strong motivating forces on her later work. After completing an MA in painting at the University of Iowa in 1972, she entered the university’s new Multimedia and Video Art programme, in which she was free to experiment and develop a unique formal language, gaining an MFA in 1977.

In the 1970s Mendieta began to create ‘earth-body sculptures’ outdoors in Iowa, using the primal materials of blood, earth, fire, and water, having first executed performances that she documented in photographs or black-and-white films. In the Silueta series she traced or sculpted the image of her body on the ground, using ignited gunpowder, leaves, grass, mud, stones, other natural elements, or cloth; ...

Article

Karen Kurczynski

(b Saugerties, NY, Jan 18, 1942).

American performance and video artist and spiritual practitioner. Montano was raised a Roman Catholic and briefly entered a convent as a teenager in 1960–62. She went on to practice a mixture of Catholicism, yoga and Zen Buddhism in direct relationship to her artistic works, which explore breaking down the boundary between art and everyday life through ritual. She earned an MA in sculpture from Villa Schifanoia, Florence, in 1966 and an MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1969.

Montano is known for her endurance performances. Her early performances in the 1970s involved blindfolding herself for weeks at a time, handcuffing herself to other people, and performing as her alter-ego “Chicken Woman.” She began making video art as an extension of her performances. The video Mitchell’s Death (1977) was based on a performance, with live music by the composer Pauline Oliveros and musician Al Rossi, in which she relates the story of the sudden death of her husband, Mitchell Payne. The video features an extreme close-up of Montano chanting while she inserts acupuncture needles into her face. The ...

Article

Deborah A. Middleton

(b Fort Wayne, IN, Dec 6, 1941).

American conceptual artist. Recognized as one of the most influential, innovative, and provocative 20th century American artists, Nauman extended the media of sculpture, film, video, photography, and sound with performance and spatial explorations. Nauman attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1960 to 1964, with early studies in mathematics and physics, which broadened to the study of art under Italo Scanga (1932–2001). He received a master’s degree in Fine Art from the University of California, Davis in 1966 under William T. Wiley, Robert Arneson, Frank Owen (b 1939), and Stephen Kaltenbach (b 1940) and honorary degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute (1989) and California Institute of Art (2000). In 1966 he began to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute.

Nauman’s interactive artworks and performances explore the syntactical nuances of language, text, and figurative gesture to create material culture and in-between places, which often result in a heightened sense of physical and emotional awareness. Nauman’s artistic explorations of spatial perception, bodily consciousness, physical and mental activity, and linguistic manipulation were demonstrated in interactive spatial compositions that accentuated various relationships between the human body and built environments. Early works included body castings and holographic self-images with subsequent works situating the viewer within their own mental and bodily perceptions. In ...

Article

Mick Hartney

(b Seoul, July 20, 1932; d Miami, Jan 29, 2006).

South Korean video artist, performance artist, musician, sculptor, film maker, writer, and teacher, active in Germany and the USA (see fig.). From 1952 to 1956 he studied music and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. In 1956 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany: he studied music at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt, before joining Fluxus, with whom he made performance art, experimental music, and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. the imageless Zen for Film, 1962). His Neo-Dada performances in Cologne during this period included a celebrated encounter with John Cage, during which he formed a lasting friendship with the avant-garde composer by cutting off his tie. Inspired by Cage’s ‘prepared piano’, in which the timbre of each note was altered by inserting various objects between the strings, Paik’s experiments from 1959 with television sets, in which the broadcast image was modified by magnets, culminated in his seminal exhibition ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Belgium.

Born 1947, in Brooklyn (New York City).

Painter, sculptor, performance artist, video artist, assemblage artist, musician.

Charlemagne Palestine lives and works in Brussels. He is a multimedia artist who experiments with all forms of art: painting, sculpture, music, video and performance....

Article

American, 20th–21st century, female.

Born 12 October 1939, in Fox Chase (Pennsylvania).

Performance artist, assemblage artist, installation artist, video artist. Multimedia.

Neo-Dadaism, Feminist Art, Body Art.

Carolee Schneemann received a BA from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, and an MFA from the University of Illinois. She also studied at Columbia University School of Painting and Sculpture, New York; the New School for Social Research; and Universidad de Puebla, Mexico. She has taught at the University of Illinois (...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Prague, 1955).

Czech sculptor, photographer, video artist and performance artist active in Montreal, Canada. Moving to the West in her teenage years, she attended several Canadian universities before completing her MFA at the University of Toronto in 1982. Working in a variety of media, yet almost always engaging in a dialogue between the body and its environment, she is best known for her wearable sculptures not unlike those of Rebecca Horn. Her early work Measuring Tape Cone (1979; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 50) is a photograph that shows a tightly wound measuring tape covering the artist’s hand and extending into a cone. It is an early instance of her interest in creating objects that interact with the body, offering the possibility of liberation and the threat of containment. These themes are most obviously expressed in Jacket (1992; see 1995 exh. cat., p. 136), a garment in which the arms are sewn together. ...