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Article

Sarah Urist Green

(b Kabul, June 5, 1973).

Afghan video and performance artist and photographer, active also in the USA. After fleeing Soviet-occupied Kabul with her family in the late 1980s, Abdul lived as a refugee in Germany and India before moving to Southern California. She received a BA in Political Science and Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, and an MFA at the University of California, Irvine, in 2000. Abdul first returned to a post-Taliban Afghanistan in 2001, where she encountered a place and people transformed by decades of violence and unrest. Since that time, Abdul has made work in Kabul and Los Angeles, staging herself in performances and creating performance-based video works and photography that explore ideas of home and the interconnection between architecture and identity.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Abdul made emotionally intense performance art informed by that of Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović and Cuban-born American artist Ana Mendieta. At the time unable to travel to Afghanistan, Abdul created and documented performances in Los Angeles that probed her position as Afghan, female, Muslim, a refugee and a transnational artist. In ...

Article

Francis Summers

revised by Jessica Santone

(b Belgrade, Nov 30, 1946).

Serbian performance artist, video artist and installation artist. She attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade (1965–70) before completing her post-diploma studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb, in 1972. Her early works included sound recordings installed on bridges, paintings of truck crashes, and experiments with conceptual photography (see Widrich, pp. 80–97). In her first significant performance, Rhythm 10 (1973), she repeatedly and rapidly stabbed the spaces between her fingers with various knives. Later, in Rhythm 0 (1974; see Ward, pp. 114–30), she invited gallery visitors to choose from 72 available objects to use on her body, as she stood unresponsive for 6 hours. Her infamous performance Thomas’ Lips (1975; see M. Abramović and others, pp. 98–105), in which she cut, flagellated, and froze herself, established her practice as one that dramatically explored the physical limits of the human body, as seen in the work of Gena Pane or Chris Burden (...

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

Finnish, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in Helsinki.

Born 1959, in Hämeenlinna.

Video installation artist, film producer, photographer, performance artist.

Conceptual Art.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila was a student at the university of Helsinki from 1980 to 1985 and studied film and video at the London College of Painting. In ...

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 19 February 1946, in Washington DC.

Painter, sculptor, draughtsman, engraver, photographer, video artist, glassmaker, decorative designer. Theatre design.

AfriCobra Group.

Akili Ron Anderson attended the Corcoran School of Art and Howard University in Washington DC where he lives and works. He is a member of AfriCobra (African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) founded in ...

Article

Agung Hujatnikajennong

(b Bandung, May 21, 1961).

Indonesian installation, video and performance artist and writer. Arahmaiani graduated from the Fine Art Department of Bandung Institute of Technology in 1983 and then continued her studies at the Paddington Art School, Sydney (1985–6) before attending the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunst & Vormgeving (AKI), Enschede (1991–2). During the 1980s she was also part of a rebellious young artists’ movement in Indonesia.

Arahmaiani is known for her specific point of view in responding to the domination of academicism in the Indonesian art world, which became her departure point in developing Happenings and performance art during the early 1980s; a boom era of painting and commercialization that occurred as a result of the economic boosting under the Indonesian New Order regime. One of her most important works, Newspaper Man (1981), in which she wrapped her body in newspaper advertisements and walked through the streets and shopping malls of Bandung, stimulated a more vibrant practice and discourse on the use of human body as an art medium in Indonesian art. ...

Article

Ulrike Gaisbauer

(b Pressburg, Aug 28, 1940).

Austrian painter, writer, film maker and musician. While still at school he wrote short novels and songs, drew comic strips, composed pieces for ocarina and piano and was three times Austrian junior national yachting champion. From 1957 to 1963 he was a student at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna. His sensual pictures, which express a totally egocentric personality, sparkle with lively imagination. They incorporate the idea of metamorphosis as a consistent leitmotif and are therefore always undergoing a process of transformation. The idea of beauty, as part of a wide-ranging aesthetic view of the world, often forms the core of his artistic statements and is the basis of his numerous actions.

Attersee’s invented words and objects, for example Food-ball or Prosthesis-alphabet, are the result of an intellectual exploration of ordinary objects in everyday reality, as well as of current linguistic patterns. From 1967 to 1968 he produced his ...

Article

Italian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in New York.

Born 1969, in Genoa.

Performance artist, installation artist, video artist, photographer.

Neo-Conceptual Art.

Beecroft attended the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti Pittura in Genoa from 1987 to 1988 and then went on to study directing at the Accademia di Belle Arti de Brera ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (Anishinaabe), 20th century, female.

Born 22 March 1960, in Upsala (Ontario).

Performance artist, installation artist, sculptor, video artist.

Rebecca Belmore was sent from her home to attend high school in Thunder Bay (Ontario), where she was billeted with a non-Aboriginal family. She graduated from the experimental art programme at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design in ...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1966, in Lille.

Installation artist, photographer, video artist, film producer, writer, musician.

Stéphane Bérard lives and works in Haute-Provence. Both poet and sculptor, he casts a quizzical and ironic eye on the flotsam of everyday life. His inventions include the ...

Article

Swiss, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Zurich and New York.

Born 1970, in Schaffhausen.

Installation artist, video artist, photographer, performance artist.

Olaf Breuning originally trained as a photographer before going on to do a degree at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Zurich. He won a travel bursary to the USA in ...

Article

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Japan and the USA.

Born 8 December 1957, in Quanzhou City (Fujian Province).

Painter, draughtsman, mixed media, video artist, installation artist, performance artist.

Cai Guo-Qiang trained in stage design at the Shanghai drama institute from 1981 to 1985...

Article

Cao Fei  

Chinese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1978, in Guangzhou, China.

Photographer, performance artist. Video, multimedia.

Cao Fei graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2001, having attended middle school at the same institution four years earlier. She was a co-founder of the partnership Ou Ning + Cao Fei. Her early photography and subsequent interactive sound and video-game environments, or ‘machinima’, emerged from her initial interest in commercial advertising and electronic entertainment videos. Her works often blur reality by involving virtual cosplay figures who imitate manga superhero figures, often artist friends or youths. These performances take place in the urban environment and engage the art world with virtual economies, as well as linking to the rapid modernization and consumerism emerging within China since the turn of the century. She has become known for her ongoing experimental, animated, ethnographic documentary that engages the online world of Second Life to create the virtual RMB City. The video was first shown at the Venice Biennale (China Tracy Pavilion, ...

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

Agung Hujatnikajennong

(b Jakarta, June 12, 1960).

Indonesian painter, installation, video and performance artist. Dono studied art at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta (1980–87) while also studying traditional Javanese shadow-puppetry (wayang kulit) under the puppeteer (dalang) Sukasman. He became known for producing works inspired by shadow-puppetry (e.g. the painting The Legend Puppet, 1988); adapting the two-dimensional imagery, the gamelan music and narration of wayang kulit to recreate metaphors of modern civilization. Dono’s work encompassed painting, sculpture, installation and performances, often employing low-tech multimedia and self-assembled electronic devices that generate music, moving images, light projection, producing a low-tech kinetic environment (e.g. Flying Angels, 1996).

Dono’s works create a meticulous connection between traditional puppetry and modern animation, as he viewed both types of moving images as lively worlds of absurdity where narratives often do not make any sense, yet seem enjoyable for people of all ages. Dono’s socio-political background—the repression of artistic freedom during the Indonesian New Order regime—drove him to choose a kind of foolish, impolite, stupid, naive, ridiculous and teasing expression in his works. Metaphors and criticism deeply imbued with jokes were the safest ways to avoid suppression and censorship by the regime. In creating criticism through ...

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

Kevin Concannon

(b Woodbridge, Suffolk, May 15, 1948)

English musician and artist. Eno studied fine art at the Ipswich School of Art under the tutelage of Tom Phillips (who introduced him to John Cage’s Silence) and at the Winchester Art School from 1964 to 1969. In 2007 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Royal College of Art. Eno is best known as a rock musician, first with the band Roxy Music from 1971 to 1973, and afterwards recording as a solo artist and with other musicians. He was inspired to work with tape loops by Steve Reich (b 1936) after hearing that composer’s It’s Gonna Rain (1965). He is known for ‘ambient’ music (which he named) as well as ‘generative’ music, terms popularized by Eno to describe respectively music that blends with the environment and can be listened to or ignored, and music that is ever-changing and generated by a system. Ambient and generative scores have typically accompanied his visual art installations. He is also well known as a producer of albums by rock luminaries such as Talking Heads and U2. In ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

[Höllinger, Waltraud]

(b Linz, 1940).

Austrian film maker, video artist, photographer and performance artist. After studies in Linz and Vienna (1955–64) and work as a script girl, film editor and film extra (1965–8), she signalled her decision to follow a career as an artist by changing her name to Valie Export (a combination of the abbreviated form of her forename and a reference to a popular brand of cheap Austrian cigarettes, ‘Austria Export’). The provocative and politically engaged stance she then developed in her work constituted a relentless exploration of feminist issues and a wish for direct social change as a result of her activities as an artist. In one of her best-known earlier works, Genital Panic (1969), originally an impromptu performance in a Munich cinema, she confronted audience members wearing trousers exposing her genitals. This work was later made into a photographic poster depicting the artist wearing the same confrontational apparel, sporting a wild hair-do and holding a gun. Agitational erotic interaction had also featured in a well-known street performance of the same year, ...

Article

Swiss, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active since 1985 active in Paris, since 1998 in Berlin.

Born 1959, in Evilard.

Painter, installation artist, video artist, performance artist.

Neo-Conceptual Art.

Favre settled in Paris in 1985, then in Berlin in 1998. Her work, which draws on different sources, is eclectic and even seems contradictory. She divides her time between performance, sound, video, theatre, writing and painting. Generally, she produces work in series revolving around a chosen object, such as a chair, a pillow or a cupboard. Using a single colour, white, she then invites us to reflect....