Public Performance Art in the Global Age
Variously termed “relational aesthetics,” “socially engaged art,” or “new genre public art,” the exploding global expansion and wildly proliferating forms of what this course will term public performance art is one of the most exciting and consequential artistic, cultural, and political movements of the start of the 21st Century. This course will chart the history of this phenomenon from its radical origins in Futurism, Constructivism, and Dada cabaret, through Happenings, the inter-disciplinary collaborations of Merce Cunningham, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, site-specific and installation art, to current practitioners around the world, such as Ai Weiwei, Thomas Hirschhorn, Marina Abramovic, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude, among others. The course will outline the theoretical and philosophical foundations of this work and the political controversies it has ignited. Special focus will be on the engagement of this work with public space and contemporary urban life. Course requirements include wide reading and class discussion, and oral presentations on artists, collectives, and movements that have significantly shaped the current landscape. The course includes a laboratory component in which students will have the opportunity to construct a performance art or installation piece in campus public space. This public art piece will serve as site research for a final paper. All students welcome. No previous experience or special expertise in the field required. Just genuine interest or curiosity.