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Article

Yugoslav, 20th–21st century, female.

Active in the Netherlands.

Born 30 November 1946, in Belgrade (now in Serbia).

Performance artist. Multimedia.

Conceptual Art, Body Art.

Marina Abramovic studied at the fine arts academy in Belgrade from 1965 to 1970 and began executing her first performance pieces, films and videos between ...

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

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 5 June 1947, in Chicago.

Installation artist, performance artist, photographer, musician.

Computer Art (Multimedia Art).

Laurie Anderson graduated in art history at Barnard College in 1969, and obtained a second degree of Fine Arts in sculpture from Columbia University in ...

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

American, 20th–21st century, male.

Born 1967, in San Francisco.

Assemblage artist, installation artist, performance artist. Multimedia.

Identity Art.

Matthew Barney studied at Yale University, receiving a BA in 1989. His experiences in sport and modelling are reflected in his artistic work, particularly in videos of his performances requiring significant physical endurance and athleticism, such as ...

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(b Mombasa, Kenya, Nov 2, 1962).

German multi-media installation and performance artist of Kenyan birth. Von Bonin is known for collaborative, richly associative and perplexing spaces full of artworks that suggest Alice-in-Wonderland narratives and evoke Claes Oldenburg’s playful relational strategies.

Von Bonin attained art world prominence soon after her first New York solo show in 1991. Her puckish neo-feminist conceptual art draws largely upon her experiences and friendships in the Cologne art world and neighborhood art scene. Von Bonin’s work challenges traditional stereotypes of the artist as male genius, creating art alone in his studio. The prestige of the artist’s signature is mocked in ‘solo’ shows such as her exhibition The Cousins (2000), held in Brunswick, which featured a large library installation by the artist Nils Norman (b 1966). Von Bonin arranged many installation events with fellow artists, musicians and writers, in which she played the role of curator-impresario as well as object maker. In her work different media and expressive idioms are re-mixed, the world of popular music in particular being integral to her ...

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

British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1948.

Sculptor, collage artist, draughtsman, performance artist. Multimedia.

Brian Catling teaches sculpture at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, and is a Fellow of Linacre College. He is also a poet.

During the 1990s Catling worked on the Cyclops...

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

Fiona Bradley

(b Wakefield, Oct 21, 1968).

British visual artist and musician. He was brought up in Glasgow from the age of three, and studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1990.

Creed’s work plays on definitions of art and captures the public imagination while also attracting critical acclaim for its thoughtful, accessible approach. His art puts ideas out into the world in a variety of materials; he uses simple things such as planks of wood, stacks of chairs, and pieces of crumpled paper; some professional materials such as acrylic paint and neon; and some more unusual live components such as runners, ballet dancers, musicians, and dogs. He has made sculptures, installations, paintings, drawings, videos, songs, events, live performances, and one ballet.

Creed’s works are numbered sequentially (although some numbers are not used), and often have subtitles in the form of descriptive instructions. He first became known for sculptural gestures whose slightness and humorous inadequacy called into question the nature of sculpture: for example, ...

Article

British, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1954, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Producer, composer. Sound installations.

David Cunningham is a composer and producer known for a wide range of work, particularly his sound installations and his collaborations with visual artists such as John Latham, David Hall, Stephen Partridge and Bruce McLean. Through his installations he explores the acoustic possibilities of the resonant frequencies of physical or ‘architectural’ space, including galleries. Cunningham is interested in the role of sound in the fine arts and how our sense of acoustic surroundings alters or has an effect on our perceptions. Cunningham was appointed a Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Canadian First Nations (Ojibwa), 20th–21st century, female.

Born 1952, in Toronto.

Sculptor, performance artist, multimedia artist, installation artist.

A member of the Serpent River First Nation, Bonnie Devine is a Canadian Ojibwa artist, writer and curator. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design in ...

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

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

Russell Gullette

(b Johannesburg, May 1968).

South African installation, performance, and video artist and photographer. Geers is part of a generation of African artists who emerged during the global expansion of the art world in the 1990s. Born into a white working-class family, he studied fine arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg from 1985 to 1987. Geers was exiled for refusing to serve in the South African Defence Force in 1989. With the threat of imprisonment removed after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in 1990 he returned to Johannesburg. Then in 2000 he moved to Brussels.

Geers has described his artistic position as a TerroRealist. His work features everyday, vernacular materials such as beer bottles, razor wire, pornography, neon signs, and expletives such as ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’. He employed these materials as a means to challenge various manifestations of power, whether state terror, working-class oppression, history, or, at his most poetic, language....