Performance-like Art

Performance has become one of the key terms for the new century. Traditionally this notion was associated with artistic practices that adopted certain theatrical and ceremonial techniques and approaches. The practice of performance has been deconstructed by artists since the second half of the 20th Century onward by those interested in challenging the rules of both the theatrical and the artistic. They have devised new ways of shocking audiences based on a live and direct approach as well as unique, one-time presentations of the artworks. The unrepeatability of the act and the direct relationship with the audience were crucial points for the first generation of new performance artists.

Nowadays it is preferable to talk about “performance-like art” instead of “performance art”. This is because the strict sense of performance has been replaced with more multi-dimensional, hybrid ways of understanding and practicing the genre. This has been achieved first and foremost owing to the wider trans-media way of working, one that has mixed the original meaning of performance with other technologies and devices, something that has involved withdrawing from the direct relationship with the audience. Secondly, the concept has grown in importance, in part thanks to the proliferation and expansion of the concept of “performativity”, which has placed the emphasis on questions related to the agency and scope of the arts rather than the question of theatricality itself.

“Performativity” is a concept that sprung up midway into the 20th century with the work of John Austin and brought with it a radical paradigmatic shift in our understanding of the arts, from a semantic and semiotic approach to the arts – based on the question “what does it mean?” – to a pragmatic shift based on changing the question to read “what can it do?” From performance, performance-like and performativity what is today at stake is the question of the agency of art, and its power not just to represent the world but to challenge and transform it.

“Discovering Art” is an educational portal where you can discover interesting facts about art and museums of art.

The online portal Discovering Art is the collaborative effort of four institutions:

Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Fundació Antoni Tàpies from Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška from Slovenj Gradec.

The portal is part of the European project Performing the Museum.