Notes on ‘Performance in Contemporary Art’

Performing formats: institutions and games

Page 14, Performance in Contemporary Art


  • ” Since the late 1980s, artists have begun to understand institutions as settings for enacted behaviour that can be challenged through re-imagining or re-playing.”
  • “The rules of specific disciplinary formats and institutional structures are more and more often invoked performatively by artists to test out different pattern for articulating social contact (bonds, agreements or simply ways of interacting).”
  • “In his work (Hammons), and in how he performance his role as an artist, Hammons refuses the given rules of arts’s game.”
  • In the early 1990s, philosopher Slavoj Žižek characterised their attitude as one of provocative overidenification with the repressed ‘obscene superego’ of the state, since the group performatively inhabited structures of power – be they gestures of military authority, canonical aesthetics or political propaganda.

Vocabulary and Keywords

  • anti- or extra-institutional
  • enacted behaviours act or performance the behaviour
  • articulating social contactexpressing clearly social contact
  • communal activitypublic, common/ not private activity
  • conviviallively
  • co-operativecollaborative
  • choreographicto describe the sequence of steps or movement in dance
  • relational antagonismactive hostility or opposition, deliberatively divisive or contradictory in nature
  • societal revolution – social revolution
  • institution (in the context of performance art after late 1980s)
  • institutional structure
  • quasi-scientific experiments
  • microtopiamicro utopia
  • assemblage – assembly
  • per seitself, themselves, intrinsically
  • ready-made formats – existing formats
  • provocative overidentificationprovocative over identification
  • obscene superegoof portrayal or description of sexual matters; a part of a person’s mind that acts as self-critical conscience.
  • canonical aesthetics‘authorised’/ standard aesthetics
  • infiltrated – enter or gain access to some places
  • ‘conceptual territory’
  • ‘state in time’

Possible References for Research

  1. “relational antagonism” by Claire Bishop.
  2. Carsten Höller, artist, interactive sensory environment
  3. Liam Gillick, artist, interior architecture invoking the contemporary office.
  4. Nicolas Bourried, create ‘mrotopias’ within existing reality.
  5. Authony Caro, British sculptor, his assemblages of found industrial materials.
  6. David Hammons, selling snowballs on the street – The Bilz-aard Ball Sale.
  7. Neue Slowenische Kunst(NSK), artists’ group.
  8. Neo Naturists, artists’ group.
  9. Slewoj Žižek, philosopher.

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