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Article

Jeff Fleming

(b Göttingen, 1968).

German conceptual artist. Jankowski studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg. Working in video, film, photography, installation, and performance, he reinserted ritual and its intrinsic mystery into the creative act and, subsequently, into the act of viewing a work of art. For the artist, ritual enabled the recognition of a specific world view and built a site where dialogue could take place between different people or different belief systems. Jankowski arrived at this point of recognition through his transformative use of collaboration, a circular method of creation, the utilization of magic or wonder, and humour. By making clear these devices in his art, Jankowski enabled the viewer to experience an ‘aha’ moment, or a climatic ‘Big Wow’, a phrase coined by Walt Disney to describe the high point on an amusement park ride or the big, concluding special effect in a movie. These approaches, together with Jankowski’s use of popular forms of mass culture, provided a critique of the detached nature of contemporary art production and positioned Jankowski as one of the most thought-provoking image makers of his time....

Article

Julia Robinson

American artists’ space located at 239 Thompson Street at the south edge of Washington Square in New York City. Beginning in the late 1950s the Judson Church hosted experimental avant-garde activities—art installations, Happenings, the beginnings of postmodern dance—launching a now celebrated group of artists, dancers, poets and composers, and fueling the radical downtown art scene. The platform of free expression Judson provided for the untested work of the 1960s generation, at a time when these artists were far from established, was a critical contribution to the invention, originality and ultimate international renown of these preeminent American artists.

Built in 1890 and designed by the renowned architect Stanford White (of McKim, Mead & White), the church’s original mission was to serve the immigrant population of Lower Manhattan with health and recreational programs as well as religious services. In the 1950s Reverend Bob Spike (1949–55) asked his seminary intern, Budd Scott, to go into the neighborhood and spend time with the locals—including a significant contingent of struggling artists—to discover their needs. Scott found out that the artists urgently needed a place to present their work. Judson’s national reputation for fostering radical artistic practice came under the tenure of Reverend Howard Moody (...

Article

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

(Jennifer )

(b Barre, VT, Feb 15, 1974).

Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander

American film maker, artist, and writer.

She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, but left after her second year and never returned to school. She has had no formal artistic training. After leaving Santa Cruz, she moved to Portland, OR, where she began exploring performance art and film-making. One of her earliest projects, Joanie4Jackie (1995), demonstrates July’s early and continued interest in collaborative artistic practice. In this work July circulated pamphlets where she invited women to send her short films on VHS tapes, and in return, she would send them films made by other women. The project acted as an arena for free film distribution to create a conversation among and women film makers. Though she has worked in a wide array of media, much of her work explores similar subjects such as human relationships, intimacy, and mortality. Her online project, Learning to Love You More...

Article

M. N. Sokolov

(Nestorovich)

(b Kukhi, nr Kutaisi, Aug 20, 1889; d Tbilisi, May 10, 1952).

Georgian painter, collagist, stage designer and film maker. He was born into a peasant family and studied from 1909 to 1916 in the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at the University of St Petersburg. From 1910 to 1915 he also studied painting and drawing in the studio of L. Ye. Dmitriyev-Kavakazsky (1849–1916). With Pavel Filonov he became a member of the St Petersburg artistic group Intimnaya Masterskaya (The Intimate Studio). The group’s manifesto (1914) proclaimed the beginning of a new era in art, awarded a central importance to Filonov’s principle of sdelannost’ (‘madeness’) and drew attention to the fundamental structural principles of artistic language. The manifesto was one of the most original developments of the pre-revolutionary avant-garde in Russia.

Kakabadze was an outstanding representative of the artistic avant-garde in Georgia. In his work innovation was always combined with a deep interest in Georgian national traditions, on which he was an expert. He studied medieval Georgian ornament while still a student, and in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

[Michael]

(b Detroit, MI, Oct 27, 1954; d South Pasadena, CA, Feb 1, 2012).

American performance and installation artist. He completed a BFA at the University of Michigan School of Art, Ann Arbor (1972–6), and an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia (1976–8), after which he settled in Los Angeles. As a student at Cal Arts, Kelley was influenced by the conceptual approach taken by teachers such as Jonathon Borofsky, John Baldessari and Douglas Huebler. His intense early performances were also affected by the rock band he formed in late 1974, Destroy All Monsters, and by the stage manner and music of jazz musicians such as Sun Ra. His first acclaimed performance work, staged in Los Angeles in collaboration with David Askevold in 1979, was Poltergeist; it included photographs, objects and black-and-white drawings combining image and text in comic-book style. Subsequent major performances include Monkey Island (1982–3) and Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile (...

Article

Blair French

Australian group of performance, video and installation artists. The four members of The Kingpins, Angelica Mesiti (b 1976), Técha Noble (b 1977), Emma Price (b 1975) and Katie Price (b 1978), met as students at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in Sydney in the 1990s. Their first public performance as The Kingpins took place in early 2000. Later that year they won the Drag Kings Sydney competition. Their early performances involved sophisticated, dynamic and highly entertaining ‘dragging’ of overtly masculine music genres, such as gangsta rap and hard rock. This was continued in related video works emerging from their performances, extending their mimicry into the realm of music video art direction. This approach culminated in the video installation work Versus (2002), in which, in a confident act of appropriation, The Kingpins reworked a 1993 karaoke performance by Leigh Bowery’s performance group Raw Sewage of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk this Way’ (...

Article

Midori Yamamura

(b Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefect., March 22, 1929).

Japanese painter, sculptor, poet, writer, printmaker, installation, and performance artist, active also in the USA.

Growing up under Japan’s World War II totalitarian regime, Kusama believed art could help her nurture a more humane worldview. She began taking private art lessons at the age of 13. Between 1952 and 1955, she had six solo exhibitions. In 1955 Kusama wrote to artists Kenneth Callahan and Georgia O’Keeffe in the United States and Callahan helped organize her first United States solo exhibition in Seattle (1957).

After Seattle, Kusama moved to New York in 1958, where she launched her career alongside the second generation Abstract Expressionists. In 1959 she developed a series of paintings called Infinity Nets; large horizontal works featuring obsessively repeated small arcs. At solo exhibitions in New York (1959, Brata Gallery; 1961, Stephen Radich Gallery), she only showed white, wall-sized works from the series. Appearing void from a distance, her huge paintings forced viewers to come closer, disallowing their objectification, while permitting each viewer an intimate experience. These works made a strong impression on the New York scene, with Frank Stella and a future Minimalist Donald Judd buying her works....

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Wasco, CA, 1945).

American installation, video and performance artist. The oldest of three children of a father from Tennessee and a mother with a Canadian–Scottish background, Lacy attended Bakersfield Junior College in 1963 and continued her studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. After receiving her BA in Zoology she joined Volunteers in Service Training to America (VISTA), administrated by the Maryland School of Social Design, becoming a community organizer in health care.

In Washington, DC, in 1969, she became radicalized as a feminist. She applied to graduate school at Fresno State University to study psychology. There she encountered Faith Wilding, a graduate student in English, and they began leading consciousness raising sessions. Soon after, artist Judy Chicago arrived from Los Angeles and started the Feminist Art Program; Lacy joined the program with Wilding and made the decision to become an artist (though she did continue to take classes in psychology at the same time). There, she learned to make art from her experience, including performances with other members of the program....

Article

Jean Robertson

(b Jerusalem, 1969).

Israeli sculptor and video, performance and installation artist. She studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she was awarded a BFA in 1994 and continued post-graduate studies in 1995. She spent a semester at the Cooper Union School of Art and Design, New York, as an exchange student in 1993. She moved to Tel Aviv in 1996. Landau represented Israel in 1997 at the Venice Biennale and participated in Documenta X that same summer. Since then she became internationally known for complex, ambitious installations that have included video projections, decaying materials such as rotting fruit and cotton candy, and sometimes life-size Ecorché (flayed) figures fashioned by the artist of Papier mâché with surfaces that look like bloody sinew. From 2005, Landau submerged various objects in the Dead Sea then dried them in the desert sun, the salt coating forming a crystallized surface; some are found objects, others are sculptural forms made of barbed wire. The salt-encrusted objects—including lampshade-like forms—became components of installations. She also made individual sculptures of bronze and other materials....

Article

Kristine Stiles

(b Zambesi River, nr Victoria Falls, Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], Feb 23, 1921; d London, Jan 1, 2006).

British painter, sculptor, conceptual artist, performance artist, video and film maker, of Rhodesian birth. He studied at the Chelsea School of Art, London, from 1946 to 1950. His concern from 1954 was not with the production of art objects as an end in itself but with various processes and consequently with the recording in three dimensions of sequences of events and of patterns of knowledge. In 1958 he introduced torn, overpainted and partly burnt books into assemblages such as Burial of Count Orgaz (1958; London, Tate), followed in 1964 by the first of a series of SKOOB Towers (from ‘books’ spelt backwards), constructed from stacks of venerated tomes such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, which he ignited and burnt. The destruction and parody of systems of knowledge implied in Latham’s work was apparent in 1966, when he organized a party at which guests chewed pages of Clement Greenberg’s book Art and Culture...

Article

David Spalding

(b Ha Tien, Nov 16, 1968).

Vietnamese conceptual artist. Lê was born near the Cambodian border, but fled with his family when his hometown was invaded by the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Lê moved to Los Angeles and studied photography at the University of California, Santa Barbara and received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1992. In 1989, while at the University of California, Lê enrolled in a class on the Vietnam War (1955–75) that emphasized American hardship. This sparked Lê’s earliest public art project, Accountability, a series of posters that Lê put up on his college campus (reproduced in 1992 for Creative Time, New York, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles). These posters juxtaposed American media images of the Vietnam War with explicit pictures of Vietnamese suffering, accompanied by captions detailing the damage done to Vietnam. The desire to intervene in dominant perceptions of the Vietnam War propelled Lê for much of his artistic career....

Article

Klaus Ottmann

(b San Rafael, CA, Jan 11, 1955).

American sculptor, installation artist and musician. Marclay studied at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Visuel in Geneva and at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Influenced by Fluxus, the interdisciplinary art movement of the 1960s, the experimental music of John Cage, and the punk and art bands of the late 1970s, Marclay started to perform in clubs in New York, playing his own record collages, which he had made by cutting up vinyl records and gluing them back together in different configurations.

For Marclay, making objects is about altering objects in order to extract new meaning, as with his stitched-together record covers or his Record without a Cover (Recycled Records, 1985) that was distributed without a sleeve or cover to allow it to accumulate dust and scratches. In 1989 he created Footsteps, an installation at the Shedhalle in Zurich, by covering the floor of one of its galleries with 3500 vinyl records. Visitors had to step on the records to reach the other galleries. The scratched and stepped-on records, which featured the sounds of a tap dancer, were sold afterwards....

Article

Pierre-François Galpin

(b Cincinnati, OH, May 21, 1937).

Pierre-François Galpin

American sculptor, performance and installation artist, and curator.

Marioni was a key figure in the conceptual art movement in the San Francisco Bay Area throughout the 1970s. After attending Cincinnati Art Academy from 1955 to 1959, he moved to San Francisco. Marioni created a large body of work exhibited around the world and in museums’ collections, and promoted fellow artists’ works through exhibitions and magazines. From 1968 to 1971 he was the curator of the Richmond Art Center in Richmond, CA, a northern suburb of San Francisco.

Marioni’s pioneering artworks included One Second Sculpture (1969), an art action in which he released a tightly coiled metal tape-measure into the air, letting it spread to then fall on the ground; the action and its result, between performance, sculpture, and time-based art, encompassed Marioni’s notion of ‘idea-oriented art’. His signature piece The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art...

Article

(b Brussels, Nov 27, 1903; d Brussels, May 13, 1971).

Belgian writer, exhibition organizer, collagist and composer. As a young composer he was influenced by Erik Satie. He collaborated on Dadaist-inspired journals and published, with René Magritte, Œsophage (1925), the only issue of which, containing the poems of Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, remained faithful to the Dada spirit. In 1926 Marie, a ‘journal bi-mensuel pour la belle jeunesse’, published under his direction, pursued the same vein; it only had two issues. Mesens was involved in the establishment of a Surrealist movement (see Surrealism), which was strongly permeated with Dadaism in Belgium. In 1927 he became Director of the Galerie L’Epoque and in 1931 of the Galerie Mesens, both in Brussels. Miró, Magritte and Max Ernst all exhibited with him. He founded the Editions Nicolas Flamel, which published the Surrealists’ collective homage to a parricide, Violette Nozières (Brussels, 1933), André Breton’s lecture ‘Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme’, held on the occasion of the first international Surrealist exhibition organized in Brussels by Mesens under the auspices of ...

Article

Matthias Ulrich

(b Lubin, Poland, Sept 11, 1967).

Polish draughtsman, sculptor, video, performance, and mixed media artist, active in the USA. She grew up in Sweden, where she studied Communications at Schillerska/Gothenburg University in Gothenburg from 1986 to 1987. After moving to New York, Mir earned her BFA for Media Arts at the School of Visual Arts in 1992, and from 1994 to 1996 she studied Cultural Anthropology at the New School for Social Research.

Mir’s practice as an artist refers to popular culture in general, focusing on images and ideas that influence and represent social reality, and investigating popular myths and technologies such as the cinematographic representation of images. The journey to the moon, for example, symbolizing the dominance of the United States during the Cold War, receives through Mir’s appropriation in First Woman on the Moon (1999) a critical reflection, taking into consideration patriarchal power structures as well as the apparent staging of reality through mass media. In her work ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

revised by Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...

Article

Daniel Montero

(b Mexico City, 1948).

Mexican performance and installation artist. Muñoz studied painting at the Escuela de Pintura y Escultura “La Esmeralda” in Mexico City. Although he began working as a painter and engraver, his constant questioning of artistic practice connected with the reality of life and social conflicts in Mexico. His art is intended to relate to life and Muñoz used various artistic processes such as performance, installation, and the art object to achieve that aim. In 1976, with Carlos Finck, José Antonio Hernández, and Felipe Ehrenberg, he founded the group Proceso Pentágono. Lourdes Grobet, Miguel Ehrenberg, Carlos Aguirre, Rowena Morales, and Rafael Doniz were also members. Their works often deal with repression, torture, and the disappearance of people on political grounds in Mexico and Latin America.

Muñoz’s work, both individual and collective, uses simple but powerful elements in which objects and bodies are bonded by a tense and complex relationship, sometimes involving urban space as a fundamental element. In his action ...

Article

Christine Robinson

[Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter]

(b Nairobi, 1975).

Kenyan and German performance artist, installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Mwangi’s work addresses notions of cultural difference, social conventions, racial categories, and national identity, primarily through an autobiographical lens. She has often utilized her body as a subject and engaged with questions related to her own African-European heritage. In 2005 Mwangi shifted from a mostly solo practice to a collaborative partnership with her husband, German artist Robert Hutter (b 1964). From that time, the pair has worked and exhibited exclusively under the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Together they have explored larger human experiences and universal issues of stereotypes, fear and negotiations between different cultures, genders, nationalities, and religions through multimedia works that have produced cross-cultural dialogues.

Mwangi was raised in Nairobi by a German mother and a Kenyan father. In 1990, as a teenager, she moved with her family to Germany and studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken from ...

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

(b Mason City, WA, Sept 6, 1938; d New York, NY, Jan 21, 2011).

American conceptual and performance artist. He studied art at California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA (1959–64) and at Stanford University, Stanford, CA (1964–5). His early work was Land art and involved large-scale outdoor projects documented by photographs. In Directed Seeding—Cancelled Crop (1969; see 1974 exh. cat.), he organized the planting of a field of wheat at Finsterwolde in Holland according to a specific pattern and then had a huge cross shape harvested out of the grown crop. He prevented any of the crop from being sold, an act he likened to ‘stopping raw pigment from becoming an illusionistic force on canvas’ (1974 exh. cat.). In the early 1970s he turned to such performance works as Reading Position for Second Degree Burn (1970; see 1974 exh. cat.), in which he lay in the sun for five hours with a book across his chest so that his skin burned, leaving a silhouette of the book. He saw this as a form of painting....