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Art Artist's Philosophy Performance and Conceptual Photography

The Body as Art

I’m tired and quite frankly I want to go to sleep.

Now that I’ve got that thought out of the way, let me write a little something before I lay my head down. Who needs sleep anyway? I mean, really!

I was painting as a young artist and mostly I was painting these clouds and one day, sitting and painting looking in the sky, I saw twelve military planes passing by and they made these incredible drawings in the sky. I look at them and I said, God, you know, it’s ridiculous. I’m painting these paintings that are so two dimensional…So after that, I stopped painting…I can use any material I want. Fire, water, and the body. The moment I started using the body, there was an enormous satisfaction that I had. That I could communicate with the public…I could never go back to the seclusion of the studio…the only way of expression is to perform.

~Marina Abramovic, Excerpt from her MOMA interview regarding her piece, The Artist is Present

I think one of the many reasons I’m looking at Abramovic’s work, lately, is due to the fact that I’m trying to draw correlations between her and the work of Guillermo Gomez Pena and his performance troupe, La Postra Nostra. Both artists have travelled the world performing art (different from conceptual art, which deals more with materiality). Performance art deals, predominantly, with the body. Deep down inside, I’m a two dimensional artist but, recently, I have paid close attention to performance art because it does something that many art forms are unable to do – engage the public, physically. It calls for immediate presence and attention. It also draws the viewer into a unique experience that becomes a part of a moment versus something that can be relived (everyday) on a much more ocular level (i.e., paintings, sculptures, etc.). Performance art is not something you can collect, per se, but it is something that finds its way through our subconscious and provokes the mind to re-interpret life. It also gives you the option to participate, which is something I’ll touch upon when I gather my final thoughts about the Corpo Ilicito show.

Speaking of participatory art, for your reading pleasure, an interesting read about participatory art by Christine Wong Yap, Bay Area Artist. Enjoy!

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, race and technology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Ars Technica, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the program manager for the Processing Foundation.

3 replies on “The Body as Art”

You bring up an interesting point that I want to delve into a bit deeper. One of my friends and I were talking about when a project/concept ceases to be art. Basically, putting parameters on conceptual art.

Thank you for reminding me of this good discussion. I’ll try and formulate a better response but I will say this…

Not sure if you are familiar with Post Secret but it is a community mail art project – http://www.postsecret.com/ – I, highly, recommend you check it out. It’s funny yet heartbreaking at times…reading all these secrets.

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