This cross-sectional look at performance or action art traces a kind of imperfect map of what could be considered a paradigmatic practice within contemporary art with respect to some key questions about the development of culture and art at the end of the century and with particular respect to the need to create cognitive maps that make it possible to “once again give subjects a renewed, superior representation of their place in the global system”.
Indeed, artists working with performance begin with the assumption that their body is the place to produce and represent the end of this idea of a ‘person’ as a central subject and nucleus of identities and experiences as conceived by the outdated humanist tradition. Built around ten thematic axes, this programme draws on very different approaches to highlight the possible existence of a new subject, a crossing point for multiple, often fleeting, identifications, leading to exclusion.
While some artists take the experience of the body beyond its own limits, like shamans, witches and magicians did in other cultures and times, from the experience of pain, the body’s capacity to endure, to the questioning of the viewer’s supposed sex and gender, other pieces refer to the feasible hybridisation of organisms with prostheses or different artefacts that improve them at the same time that they turn the body in a place for social and political debate.
The artists presented here are aware of the use of video technology, understanding that it is not a mere register of their endeavours, but a conceptual device that enables some form of distancing for the person making the images as well as the person considering them.