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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

Francis Summers

revised by Martin R. Patrick

(b Antwerp, Aug 22, 1959).

Belgian-born interdisciplinary artist, active in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium (1978–83) and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (1983–6). Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1987 and his art practice initially concentrated on Mexico City as a laboratory of urban living, often documented in the form of evocative, conceptually layered photographs, sculptures, and videos. In the slide series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) (1992–2002), Alÿs photographed street vendors and workers as they passed by carting a wide variety of goods within a ten-block vicinity of his studio. For his project entitled The Liar, The Copy of the Liar (1997) Alÿs created small images of suited men inspired by the commercial sign painters of Mexico City, and subsequently commissioned from them larger versions in their own styles. In this process Alÿs deferred authorship into a semantic chain. Hovering between the banal and the surreal, these works have an uncanny theme, of individuals observed in situations that defy explanation....

Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Antwerp, March 19, 1946).

Belgian photographer and installation artist. He studied theatre and cinema in the late 1960s, creating a fruitful ground for his future installations and later dividing his work into four categories with the aim of blurring the frontiers of art and social reality. One such category, ‘Transformation–Installation’ was rooted in a spoof governmental pamphlet written by the artist in 1979 announcing the bankruptcy of art: he argued that art was unnecessary since it was inherently non-functional. From that point on, this ironic point of view was built into his recreations of everyday environments injected with incongruous elements, as in Driving School Z (1979; see 1998 exh. cat, p. 44), an installation in an Antwerp gallery that recreated the soulless premises referred to in the title. At once bleak and dramatic in its painstaking reconstruction, it contained furniture from a real driving school as a way of blurring the distinction between art and reality. Bijl’s polished installations have an unsettling atmosphere, as they lack any sense of human presence. Tackling issues of mass culture and its vehicles, he reconstructed some institutions in tableaux that mixed the artificiality of highly stylized objects with the tangible reality of everyday artefacts. By so doing, he questioned the identity and meaning of environments once they have been relocated to an institutionalized art context. In ...

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

Catherine M. Grant

(b Paris, after 1945).

French performance and installation artist, painter, bookmaker, furniture and interior furnishings designer. Chaimowicz moved to England as a child, studying at Ealing College of Art (1963–5), Camberwell College of Art (1965–8) and the Slade School of Art (1968–70). Whilst completing his MA at the Slade, Chaimowicz decided to abandon painting, and started to make performance work, such as Celebration? Real Life (1972; performed at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham and Gallery House, London). For the duration of each show, Chaimowicz lived within the domestic space that he had created, serving coffee to visitors to the gallery. His work during the 1970s and early 1980s concentrated on performances in imaginary, idealised domestic spaces, with fragmented narratives and symbolic actions. Partial Eclipse (1980–82) consisted of Chaimowicz walking in a figure of eight in front of and behind a screen on which slides of his apartment/studio were projected, whilst a female voice recounted fragments of meetings, situations and relationships (see ...

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

Matthew Gale

(b Ancona, 1947).

Italian conceptual and performance artist. At 17 he mounted his own exhibition (1964; Ancona, Gal. D.D.), before moving to Rome where he was influenced by Arte Povera. His one-man show (1969; Rome, Gal. Attico), for which he published an obituary announcing his death, included traces of ‘invisible objects’: a square outlined on the floor constituted Invisible Pyramid. Such dematerialization was associated with mortality, with which de Domenicis was primarily concerned, investigated through autobiography and self-portraiture, as well as through juxtapositions of Urvasi, the Hindu goddess of beauty, and the partially divine Ghilgamesh, who sought immortality in vain. Invisibility became a paradoxical and primary conceptual means: D’io (‘of me’/‘God’, 1971) filled the Galleria L’Attico with a recording of laughter. Having included live animals in his Zodiac exhibition (1970; Rome, Gal. Attico), de Domenicis increasingly used people to embody such concepts as ageing (e.g. the opposition of a young and an old man at Incontri Internazionale d’Arte, Rome, ...

Article

Sophie Howarth

(b Córdoba, 1955; d Córdoba, Nov 2, 1993).

Spanish draughtsman, painter, sculptor, installation artist, performance artist and writer. In both his art and writing Espaliú, who studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Seville, was influenced by the existentialist philosophy of the French writer Jean Genet (1910–86). His works of the mid-1980s included drawings of masks and faces and a series of hollow leather sculptures known as Saints. Later, Espaliú’s works all related to his identity and experience as a homosexual and, eventually, to his HIV-positive status; he was to die of AIDS-related illnesses while still in his late thirties, and a strong sense of his frailty and imminent mortality marks his mature work. Several sculptures from 1992 involved steel cages used as metaphors for both confinement and protection. These include Untitled (1992; Seville, La Máquina Española, see 1994 London exh. cat.), an installation made originally for the Hospital de la Venerable Orden III in Madrid. As illness made Espaliú weaker and more dependent on others, he embarked on a project entitled ...

Article

Vanina Costa

(b Sauve, Gard, Jan 17, 1926; d les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, nr Périgueux, Dec 2, 1987).

French performance artist, conceptual artist and writer. He studied economics and science at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1948 to 1951, but he was self-taught as an artist. Having first worked as a playwright during the second half of the 1950s, in 1960 he presented the first of his performances incorporating poetry. By 1962 he was involved with the Fluxus movement; sharing his fellow artists’ distaste for marketable art objects, he not only continued to create performances and other ephemeral works but also involved himself in conceptual gestures such as the foundation of a ‘République Géniale’. He made films and videos, sent enigmatic objects through the post as a form of correspondence art and worked against traditional ideas about the individuality of the artist by working collaboratively with others: in 1964 he and Joachim Pfeufer created the Poïpoïdrome, a group researching ‘permanent creation’ and the ‘principle of equivalence’, and in ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(Joseph)

(b Beirut, Feb 11, 1952).

Palestinian sculptor, performance and installation artist, active in England. Hatoum’s art, as the work of a Palestinian woman in an initially involuntary exile in London, transformed from confrontational performance in the 1980s to a more reflective engagement with a minimalist and conceptualist heritage in the 1990s. This engagement is exemplified by Socle du Monde (1992–3; wood, steel and iron filings, Toronto, A.G. Ont.), a large block covered with a deep patterned crust of magnetized iron filings, a sensuous and visceral remake of Piero Manzoni’s original Socle du Monde (1962; iron and brass, Herning, Kstmus.). The related themes of exile and institutionalized authority pervade Hatoum's oeuvre and find pithy exemplification in her submissions for the 1995 Turner Prize, Light Sentence (1992; Paris, Pompidou) and Corps étranger (1994; video installation; Paris, Pompidou). The latter showed colour video images of an endoscopic probe of the artist's own body, an earthy and disturbing critique of the dualisms of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ that recasts the political criticisms of her earlier performance work. By working with a variety of media Hatoum criticizes the boundaries of traditional art practice and evokes the danger and threat of authoritarian politics; ...

Article

Rachel K. Ward

(b Gifu, 1966).

Japanese electronic composer and sound artist, active also in France. He is best known for composing reductionist sounds of extreme frequencies, employing sine waves, electronic sounds, and white noise; these are often presented as ambient soundscapes in immersive installations made of light and/or projected visualizations of data. Ikeda originally trained in Japan as an economist. He began composing music in the 1990s, focusing on Minimalism with a curiosity for the duality of mathematics, specifically the binary patterns of 0s and 1s of digital software. His compositions continued the investigations of John Cage and Morton Feldman in exploring the potential differences between tones. Ikeda’s initial albums were +/- (1996) and 0°C (1998), which resonated with the glitch electronic scene emerging at that time. In 2000 Ikeda’s album Matrix, on the Touch label, attracted considerable attention as an interactive electronic work. Ikeda presented ten 5-minute long tones affected by the listener’s proximity. These were followed by a second series of tones made from orchestral instruments to produce overlapping sounds. The album explored time and tone and generated a wider discussion in the music industry about the relationship between sound and new media formats. Ikeda later produced the albums ...

Article

Mary Chou

(b Bethlehem, 1970).

Palestinian conceptual artist. Jacir’s works use a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, sound, sculpture and painting. Jacir was raised in Saudi Arabia and attended high school in Rome, Italy. She received her BA from the University of Dallas, Irving, TX in 1992, her MFA from the Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN in 1994, and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1998 to 1999. She became a professor at the International Academy of Art, Palestine in Ramallah in 2007. Jacir’s conceptual works explore the physical and psychological effects of social and political displacement and exile, primarily how they affect the Palestinian community. Her work investigated the impact of Israeli action on the Palestinian people and countered representations of Palestinians in the press as primarily militant. Jacir often collaborated with members of the Palestinian community, both local and international, in the creation of her works....

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

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

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

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

(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

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

Orlan  

Catherine M. Grant

(b St Etienne, Loire, May 30, 1947).

French performance artist, video artist, installation artist and digital artist. When she was 18 she improvised her first street performances in her home town. During the events of May 1968, Orlan was involved in radical actions and feminist protest. Her performances of the 1970s were influenced by this political upheaval, but they also reflected her disenchantment with the Marxist and separatist politics of the time. Her work always courted controversy; for example, in a performance outside the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC), Paris, in 1977, she created a scandal with The Artist’s Kiss, inviting viewers to pay five francs for a kiss. In 1971 she had also begun to take on the persona of Saint Orlan, making performances, photographs and installations with this character until around 1984; the photograph The Assumption of the White Madonna (1984; see P. Adams and others, p. 25) typifies this group of works. With this persona she sought to upset the patriarchal beliefs inherent to the Judeo-Christian tradition, creating a female saint that was both ‘Madonna’ and ‘whore’. In ...