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Article

Abramović, Marina  

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

Acconci, Vito  

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

Arcangel, Cory  

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

Chang, Patty  

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

Durham, Jimmie  

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

Eno, Brian  

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

Export, Valie  

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

Geers, Kendell  

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....

Article

General Idea  

Canadian partnership of conceptual artists working as performance artists, video artists, photographers and sculptors. It was formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson [pseud. of Michael Tims] (b Vancouver, 1946), Felix Partz [pseud. of Ron Gabe] (b Winnipeg, 1945) and Jorge Zontal [pseud. of Jorge Saia] (b Parma, Italy, 1944; d Feb 1994). Influenced by semiotics and working in various media, they sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. Their existence as a group, each with an assumed name, itself undermined the traditional notion of the solitary artist of genius. In 1972 they began publishing a quarterly journal, File, to publicize their current interests and work. In the 1970s they concentrated on beauty parades, starting in 1970 with the 1970 Miss General Idea Pageant, a performance at the Festival of Underground Theatre in Toronto that mocked the clichés surrounding the beauty parade, resulting in the nomination of Miss General Idea ...

Article

Graham, Dan(iel Harry)  

Revised and updated by Margaret Barlow

(b Urbana, IL, March 31, 1942).

American performance artist, video artist, and writer. Graham founded the Daniels Gallery in New York and was its director from 1964 to 1965; there he came into contact with Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd. This led him to question the gallery structure and the art displayed and to experiment with conceptual art. From 1965 to 1969 he produced a series of works published in magazines, such as Schema (1966; Brussels, Daled priv. col., see 1988 exh. cat., p. 9). This series consisted merely of a descriptive list of its own contents, including the number of words, and so referred to nothing beyond itself, unlike Minimalist art that he believed referred to the surrounding display space. Furthermore, the magazine was, unlike a gallery, clearly related to time and change through its regular appearance and topicality.

From 1969 to 1978 Graham was primarily involved with performance, film, and video. His first performance took place at the Loeb Student Center at New York University in ...

Article

Installation art in Australia  

John R. Neeson

Installation art is a hybrid of visual art practices including photography, film, video, digital imagery, sound, light, performance, happenings, sculpture, architecture, and painted and drawn surfaces. An installation is essentially site specific, three-dimensional, and completed by the interaction of the observer/participant in real time and space. The point of contention with any definition concerns the site specificity, ephemerality, and consequently ‘collectability’ of the work itself. One view has it that the category installation is presupposed on the transitory and impermanent, the second that an installation can be collected and re-exhibited as a conventional work of art.

In either case installation had its genesis in the environments and happenings devised by artists in the 1950s in New York and Europe (Nouveau Réalisme in France, Arte Povera in Italy). These in turn had antecedents in the architectural/sculptural inventions such as the various Proun rooms of El Lissitzky and the Merzbau of Kurt Schwitters...

Article

Jacir, Emily  

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

Jonas, Joan  

Cecile Johnson

(b New York, July 13, 1936).

American performance and video artist, film maker, draughtsman, and printmaker. She studied sculpture and art history at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA (1954–8). In 1958 Jonas travelled to Europe before studying sculpture at the Boston Museum School (1959–61) and various subjects at Columbia University (MFA 1964). She was particularly influenced by her experience of the New York art scene in the early to mid-1960s and by the work of John Cage and Claes Oldenburg and their interest in ‘non-linear’ structure. Believing any potential for innovation in sculpture and painting to be exhausted, Jonas turned to the relatively unexplored area of performance art. Her early performances (1968–71), called Mirror Pieces, were held in large spaces and included large and small mirrors, either as a central motif or as props or costume elements. From the early 1970s her works became increasingly symbolic, game-like, and ritualistic: in, for example, ...

Article

Klauke, Jürgen  

Reinhold Misselbeck

(b Kliding, nr Koblenz, 1943).

German photographer, performance artist and video artist. He studied art at the Werkschule in Cologne from 1964 to 1970. In his work Klauke acted as his own model, exploring themes such as sexuality and social taboo, as in the 12-part photo-sequence Viva España (photographs on canvas, 1976–9; see von Weise), or banality, as in the 9-part photo-tableau Formalization of Boredom (1980–81; see 1981 exh. cat.). Klauke’s performances, such as Made in Germany (1978; Sydney, A.G. NSW), reflected the same concerns as his photography, for example the futility of existence and loss of identity in modern society. A number of his photographic series were published.

Klauke, Jürgen Sekunden, Tageszeichnungen und Polaroidfotos (Wiesbaden, 1970) Photosequenzen, 1979–1982 (Frankfurt, 1982) Zeitlebens (Cologne, 1983) Eine Ewigkeit, ein Lächeln (Cologne, 1986) Sequenzen: Fotofolgen zeitgenossischer Künstler (exh. cat. by U. M. Scheede, Hamburg, Kstver., 1977) S. von Weise: ‘Viva España’, Ausstellungsbl. Mod. Abt. Kstmus. Düsseldorf...

Article

Longo, Robert  

Daniel E. Mader

(b New York, Jan 7, 1953).

American painter, draughtsman, sculptor, video artist, and performance artist. He received his BFA (1975) from the State University College in Buffalo, NY, with a professed ambition to reach the largest possible audience. Living this prophetic statement throughout his more than 30-year career, Longo first achieved fame in the 1980s with a series of large-scale drawings in charcoal and graphite entitled Men in the Cities (New York, Metro Pictures). These images were life-size human figures in isolation or in groups, wherein the power struggles created a menacing atmosphere.

During the late 1980s he was increasingly involved with film, directing Arena Brains (30 minutes, 1988) and later Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves (98 minutes, 1995). A regular international exhibitor, often using both controversial and intimidating scale, he exhibited a 1993 drawing series Bodyhammers: The Cult of the Gun (New York, Metro Pictures; Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac). He exhibited in the Venice Biennale (...

Article

Mendieta, Ana  

Susan S. Weininger

(b Havana, Nov 18, 1948; d New York, Sep 8, 1985).

American sculptor, performance artist, video artist, and painter of Cuban birth. From the age of 12, when she was sent to the USA from Cuba by her parents, she lived in orphanages and foster homes in Iowa. Her sense of exile and the separation from her family proved strong motivating forces on her later work. After completing an MA in painting at the University of Iowa in 1972, she entered the university’s new Multimedia and Video Art program, in which she was free to experiment and develop a unique formal language, gaining an MFA in 1977.

In the 1970s Mendieta began to create “earth-body sculptures” outdoors in Iowa, using the primal materials of blood, earth, fire, and water, having first executed performances that she documented in photographs or black-and-white films. In the Silueta series she traced or sculpted the image of her body on the ground, using ignited gunpowder, leaves, grass, mud, stones, other natural elements, or cloth (e.g. ...

Article

Montano, Linda Mary  

Karen Kurczynski

(b Saugerties, NY, Jan 18, 1942).

American performance and video artist and spiritual practitioner. Montano was raised a Roman Catholic and briefly entered a convent as a teenager in 1960–62. She went on to practice a mixture of Catholicism, yoga and Zen Buddhism in direct relationship to her artistic works, which explore breaking down the boundary between art and everyday life through ritual. She earned an MA in sculpture from Villa Schifanoia, Florence, in 1966 and an MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1969.

Montano is known for her endurance performances. Her early performances in the 1970s involved blindfolding herself for weeks at a time, handcuffing herself to other people, and performing as her alter-ego “Chicken Woman.” She began making video art as an extension of her performances. The video Mitchell’s Death (1977) was based on a performance, with live music by the composer Pauline Oliveros and musician Al Rossi, in which she relates the story of the sudden death of her husband, Mitchell Payne. The video features an extreme close-up of Montano chanting while she inserts acupuncture needles into her face. The ...

Article

Mori, Mariko  

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

Mwangi, Ingrid  

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

Nauman, Bruce  

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 ...