sábado, janeiro 09, 2016

“Performance Beyond Genre”  a definition by Josette Ferai

Performance Beyond Genre | DEFINITION 

To attempt to define performance is a difficult enterprise.[8]  Without any doubt, the very nature of performance defies definition. It is the artists that have individually established the precepts used to define the genre; it is the artists that continue to reinvent it within the context of each new performance. From the rituals of Hermann Nitzsch to the installations of Christo, from the concerts of Laurie Anderson to those of Meredith Monk, from the experiences of Chris Burden to those of Jochen Gerz, from the interventions of Terry Fox to those of Rachel Rosenthal, the distance is so great that any attempt to establish bridges or to identify constants would be utterly pretentious. However, over and above such diversity, a certain number of processes can be identified, methods and devices which govern the deployment of the various materials that performance uses and which give it its own particular dynamic properties. These processes, which we shall outline here, have been part of performance from its very inception ; it is the theoretical description of them that has arrived late. Thus, they are not new to actual practice. 

Although the art of performance is alive and flourishing today, its tendency towards innovation has, on the other hand, diminished considerably. Nevertheless it remains that for those who are interested in the theatre, the art of performance is a very privileged vantage point from which to view the relationship between the performer and the theatrical environment, between the performer and technology. 

Performance breaks the boundaries between genres and introduces a continuum between zones formerly judged to be irrevocably exclusive : art and life, greater and lesser art forms, between the sophisticated and more common genres. In the same way, it no longer makes a clear distinction between music and noise, poetry and prose, reality and image, movement and dance. Refusing both rupture and confinement, performance takes for granted that which the twentieth century affirms in its totality: that progression from one level to another within the same discipline is continuous, levels being analogically rather than digitally related. For example, performance affirms that walking and dancing belong to the same continuum of movement, there being only an imperceptible distinction between them (e.g., the work of Pina Bausch), that the sound of the voice and the hammering of metal share fundamental musical components (e.g., the work of Meredith Monk). Thus, the very concept of the work of art is brought into question. By its transient nature, its structure, by the means that it deploys and the objectives it aims to attain, performance refutes the very notions of “masterpiece” and “work of art” in the traditional sense, substituting for them the concept of a transitory and fleeting work. Although these concepts are not new, it seems useful to recall them here, for they constitute the foundation upon which performance was built at its inception. Nevertheless, their innovative value has dimmed due to the fact that they have today spread to all the arts, proving that certain initially radical reforms have now become an accepted part of cultural mores. 

in -  PERFORMANCE AND MEDIA “The Use of Image” by Josette Ferai


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