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Ewa Mikina

(b Volhynia, Oct 10, 1938).

Polish performance artist and conceptual artist. He studied at the Faculty of Architecture at Kraków Technical University from 1956 to 1962 and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków (1964–5). After 1969 he produced at intervals powerful linear semi-abstract paintings resembling three-dimensional projections on to a plane. His first performance, Poetic Quarter Hour with Piano and Record Player (1967; Kraków), based on an improvised poetic recitation, was transformed into verbal-jazz improvisations featuring Tomasz Stańko (1967–8). In the early 1970s Warpechowski produced a number of conceptual works bordering on performance art (e.g. a clock encased in a block of plaster of Paris, a blank tape-measure, a bookbinding press with an empty plate, darkness enclosed in the palms of hands). The performances of the 1970s, such as Liberation of Pure Usefulness (1974), were inspired by Daoist philosophy and dealt with ideas, reality and nothingness, whereas his understanding of the creative process stemmed from the European Romantic tradition. After ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Primavera, Paraguay, 1943).

American installation and performance artist, writer and educator of Paraguayan birth. Emigrating from Paraguay to the United States in 1961, Faith Wilding consistently examined the social role of women and their bodies as the subject of her art. She received her BA in English with honors from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Wilding did postgraduate studies in Art and Art History at California State University, Fresno, where she met the artist Judy Chicago, who founded the first Feminist Art Program. Wilding completed her MFA at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and served as teaching assistant for the renowned Feminist Art Program (FAP), team-taught by Chicago and artist Miriam Schapiro. In the FAP, Wilding led a consciousness-raising group and a journal writing class, in addition to participating in the famed collaborative project Womanhouse (Jan 30–Feb 28, 1972) with her crocheted installation Crocheted Environment (Womb Room) , which resembles a loosely crocheted spider’s web, and in the performance ...

Article

Melissa Chiu

(b Shanghai, 1955; d Paris, Dec 13, 2000).

Chinese installation artist, active also in France. Chen studied at Shanghai Fine Arts and Craft School until 1973 and the Shanghai Drama Institute until 1978, where he majored in stage design. Following his graduation, he became a professor at both art schools. Chen’s most representative works from this period are a series of large, grey oil paintings entitled The Flow of Qi (Qi You Tu) (1985). These works endeavoured to represent the movement of qi, or spirit, a core element of life and the cosmos in Chinese philosophy. Although not radical in form, the work with its references to ancient and traditional Chinese philosophy was a provocative political gesture given that these ideas had been suppressed during the Cultural Revolution.

When Chen moved to Paris in 1986, he enrolled at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques, graduating in 1989. His installations throughout the 1990s, when he came to international prominence, nearly without exception included references to his Chinese heritage, including Daoist philosophy, Chinese domestic objects (chamber pots, furniture such as chairs and tables, Buddha statues, abaci), and traditional medicine. These references demonstrate a residual effect of his Chinese upbringing—he lived in China until he was 31—as well as a sense of displacement as an immigrant in France and an attempt to come to grips with being a contemporary artist living and working in the West, but not sharing that region’s culture, history and traditions. For Chen, the incorporation of Chinese references in his work were essential as a matter of defining who he was as an artist, while at the same time articulating the uniqueness of his experience....

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Andorno Micca, nr Biella, Piedmont, Sept 21, 1944).

Italian sculptor, performance artist and conceptual artist . He studied painting and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Turin (1963–70) and held his first one-man show at the Galleria Sperone, Turin, in 1967. Use of such non-artistic materials as the scaffolding and foam of Chair (1967; New York, Sonnabend Gal.) ensured his inclusion in Arte Povera (1968; Bologna, Gal. de Foscherari) and performance at Arte Povera—azioni povere (1968; Amalfi, Arsenale). Zorio’s characteristic pieces rejected sculptural weight and solidity by use of cantilevers or suspension and reactions over time or with the environment. Several incorporated light; Phosphorescent Fist (1971; Paris, Pompidou) was lit and plunged into darkness, alternatively absorbing and emitting and absorbing energy, being lit and then unlit.

In common with his friend Giovanni Anselmo, Zorio raised linguistic problems, as in Odio (‘Hatred’), axed into a wall at Documenta 5, Kassel (1972), but his concern with energy led to experiments with both chemical and physical instability. He initiated gradual chemical reactions in his materials, which continued beyond the period of making, and used Olympic javelins to provide cantilevers; when combined with fragile, glass vessels or with the emblematic form of the five-pointed star (e.g. ...