Revisionist History

I’m not even surprised anymore.  I’m not even angry.  I’m just tired and continually baffled at the dogged insistence by the visual art world that “performance art” has no relation to “performance.”  The latest bit of salt in the wound comes from this weekend’s NY Times’ Style Magazine, entitled “High Performance.”  Among several points I could gripe about (women in the Whitney Biennial = a feminist takeover?; Picasso was only playing with “pictorial representation” and not “comfort zones?”), my chief beef is once again with the art world’s self-centered history of performance.

A profile on Marina Abramović, has this to say in the way of context for time-based work: “The ephemeral medium dates back to 1909 and the publication … of Marinetti’s ‘Futurist Manifesto,’ which renounced static art…”

1909?!?!  Performance wasn’t around before the twentieth century?!? (Ok, maybe I am mad.)  I don’t even think that you could say performance as a collectible object dates back only as far as 1909.  (Medieval court performers, anyone?)

Whatever, Art World.  We’re used to your snubs by now.  The performance community will continue to feed you with ideas, and you will continue to believe they sprang solely from your own well-coiffed, ever-so-clever, arrogant brains.

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