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Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis

A NDREA P AGNES (V EST A ND P AGE )

BODY ISSUES IN PERFORMANCE ART: BETWEEN THEORY AND PRAXIS
1. STATEMENT ELEMENTS
Performance art “is a culture bound. It is always related to the specificity of a particular context, situations
and circumstances”. 1
It is a discipline that is practiced and moves along the ridge that exists between an action that just refers to
itself, and a live art work intended not just as a mere ‘corpus of actions’, but mainly as possible instrument
of expression and communication, aimed to create or decipher a particular experience.
This could be possible only by producing meanings. Only meanings give actions a sense: lacking in
meaning, any performance actions would lose its impact, and be scattered, poorly becoming a mere end, an
empty joke.
The performer is outside of any usual or pre-ordered language; the performer sees things from many
different perspectives, through a magnifying glass. Paradoxically, it’s as though the performer doesn't
belong to the human condition and, moving towards man’s essence, first of all the performer sees the action
itself (and the need to act) as a barrier. Instead of seeking first to know i.e. the man’s name, it's as though the
performer establishes immediately a silent contact with the essence within (him/herself) and then, turning
towards that other species of things that for him/her are actions (touching them, feeling them), the
performer discovers that there is a specific tenuous light, a particular affinity with the earth, the sky, water
and all those things that are. Not knowing how to use them as a sign of some aspect of the world, the
performer sees in the body, which acts, the image itself of one of those aspects.
A performance, live or recorded, is life itself: it is primarily real. It stimulates memory activation, sentiments,
instinctual feelings and the most intimate beliefs of who is participating. However, to achieve an inner
‘shifting’, a transfer of the Being to another dimension (real but not ordinary) in his appearance, it is
necessary to communicate differently - but thoroughly - through gestures or primary actions, establishing a
relation between performer and spectator with no obligations or forced intentions. Actually, performer and
spectator are interdependent to each other, and, in different measure, reciprocally impressionable. Thus,
while body and soul, movement and perception are evident proofs of reality, at the same time they are a
laboratory of memory and representation. For that, a performance is really valuable when it arrives to
investigate territories where ethic and aesthetic find their common ground.
Impermanence, identity, transfer, emotions, denial, introspection, idealization, division of the inner Self, its
intimate essence in relation to the others, the objects and the surroundings: to perform within these topics
means to move on that edge separating the realm of reality from the Utopia’s one.
During a performance the many different sensorial perceptions shape an itinerary that evokes non ordinary
stimulations, at the same time offering a whole range of information to awake the inner sight, and to realize
what it may be the ineffable that everyone carries inside himself.
The (human) Being exists essentially for the interaction of three fundamental factors: the biological sphere,
the social-ecological one, and the inter-psychic one. In the reality, when one or more of these areas get in
conflict with another one, the human being, to protect itself from the loss of inner balance and the crisis that
follows, tries to find remedy by using defensive devices. Everyone does. Nevertheless, there is something
inside each one of us that seems to be still impossible to define in precise words, but it exists and acts:
someone calls it mystery, some others psychic-spiritual experience.
The term action comes from the Latin word actionem (nom. actio), from the pp. stem of the verb agere, and
from the pp. stem of the later activare. It means the state or process of doing; to set in motion; to operate and
organize activity to accomplish an objective; the causation of change by the exertion of power or a natural
process; a movement, a manner of movement or a series of movement; a behaviour, a conduct (also
habitual). In some other cases the term action can indicate to urge, to drive, to chase, to stir up.
Hence, with particular reference to performative action, it is necessary to consider a priori the performer as
primary element - action-maker - of the action itself with performer's performing body. However, whether
the presence of the performer’s body has to operate and act within the action itself, and in which measure it
must be visible, perceptible, and tangible to be said performative action, it is not precisely defined yet.
Perhaps to analyze the idea of the body as essential element of any performative action, and investigate the
possibility of action and representation on the surface of the so-called visible body, it is maybe useful to
revisit some specific cultural prodromes about the word ‘body’.
For instance the Arab (Sufi) culture states three different expressions to define the word ‘body’: Gesem, Gesed

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the tangible. Masters such as Eugenio Barba and Kassim Bayatly insist on the fact that an art action has to arouse interest (through the body). letting the Ego to interrupt. thinking by oppositions to subvert the ordinary configuration of things can organically play out the performer’s posture. Of course the action pertinent to the Gesem (body-body) is easily perceptible and clearly definable. which consists of flesh. during an actual performance. but an active participation. Gesed. similarly body movements have to be endlessly repeated. and. the concrete biological. distinct elements (or bodies) by which the body is subdivided: Gesem. the ‘sphere’ of the other. muscles.2 These three terms are clearly specified in what they refer to and in how. transparent and subtle emotions. and the ‘sphere’ of the outer space which confines with them. a performer must essentially adhere with what the performer is doing. would have always be to achieve a natural equilibrium and balanced strength between those ‘three bodies’. but it will be always important to remind that in those moments the Gesed (mind-body) and Beden (psyche-body) of the performer are somehow set in motion. corrupt. To produce emotions. criticize. the brain. that is a question of pure involvement. consequently.is the mind-body.is the body-body. body weight dynamics (equilibrium. As the sense of holiness is given by repetitive gestures. which should be properly analysed and to be intended as aspects of the ‘three bodies’ of the performer. intuition and impression to expression. which are necessary both to compose and act. pause. which equally can express themselves through the Gesem (body-body). demeanour and gestures. Performance art is a ‘work of the spectator’ too. never forgetting that spontaneity. and causing a loss of its quality). it may happen that the spectators do not visually perceive any action of the Gesem (body-body). Body dynamics (the use of the space containing the individual) and movement dynamics (i. quickness and rapidity. although emotionality is something to evoke and not to merely act. act. in order to understand which of these three bodies is more helpful and suitable to try and give the action a precise definition. Hence. The ‘three bodies’ reciprocally influence each other. time dynamics (movement lasting. constantly moving from perception. not just as an artist. always paying attention to principles that belong to space dynamics (the virtual ‘sphere’ where the body is contained. transforming.is the psyche-body. and naturalness are targets and not starting points. bones. impeding mind freedom and relaxation. the psychosomatic element of soul movements and true. Latin’s intelligenzia: the mental structure. space dilatation and space compression. amplifying and reducing. This is made possible when the performer has reached a full awareness of his/her body limits and possibilities. changing. Hence. without compromising the action in terms of rhythm and energy. It is consequential that a specific question arises when someone try to analyze a particular. but what happens if the action is due to the use of Gesed (mind-body) and/or Beden (psyche-body)? Can these two bodies be in action without having an obvious. Thus.e. during the action. also the work of an action artist is based on a continuous ‘addition and subtraction’. which supports and controls the Gesem (body-body). slowness. persuade (through the mind). until the body memorizes them completely. Beden. Like Theatre. reaction and response. anatomical structure. or identify himself/herself with a particular emotion ending to become poorly sentimental. a performer has also to be aware that seductions and thoughts are obstacles for the mind: they obstruct it. and this even more when the action is interactive. and communicate emotions (through the psyche). visible output (expression) on the Gesem (body-body) surface? How can we perceive them? The task for any artist. position. they consequently interfere with all the following categories. and also influence Gesed (body-mind). trying wrongly to put it into some sort of effect directly. pertinent to the spectator's attention and consciousness: it is the spectator who has to interpret and decipher signs and symbols used/given by the performer. when it requires not just an actual presence. it is like to say that a performance artist must never get excited. both for performer and spectator. Actually. they indicate the three single. Breaking the symmetries. as material for representation/action.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis and Beden. these hindrances reveal the mind in its weakness and liability. mechanical substance. blood. which works with/through the artist's own body. but more. judge. the many possible different body positions and height). in order to be then effective during the performance. performative action. energetic intensity). and conspire against one of the foremost human quality: to be tuned by sensibility and spirit. directness. strength. attitude. body 2 . balancing. as human being. Besides all this. and that they are actually working and making action. If these three subtle bodies are elements that belong to the performer’s body once it is activated to operate during any performative action.

The rhythm of the expression needs all these elements: for a performer the question is not just ‘what I have to do’ (pertinent to intelligibility). actions and interventions: when they find a common ground to flow together. dreams or visions. For example a ritual dynamic can activate and indicate different processes of social relation. and mostly is.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis articulations which determine and sustain a series of movements) converge into relational dynamics. Similarly. mental and spiritual perception at the same time. to avoid and resist. primarily poetical as part of a creative process.lead to achieve a more pure and non hyper-structured way of communication aim to evoke associations and to generate concrete modifications that refer to something ‘different’. These movements are of two different types: transitory or nontransitory. once it is guided by consciousness. The ‘becoming’ itself turns to be a practice focused on exploring to find new codes of expression and relation. a clear sequel of different images in motion is enhanced at its best. but mostly ‘how to do it’. which . social. a process of making which carries within clearness and significance.as mediators of the ineffable . In this way it is possible to create a flux of lasting energies throughout physical and real images that the body . harmonious. everyone realizes how much humble. remembrances. it happens when an intuition occurs for the activation of the memory. non-acritic. Images produced by the mind. that is finally the result of an aesthetic course. When the transformation of movements that ‘pass’ one into another is clear. we activate a different scale of inter-connective messages and impulses. Relational movements offer possibilities to a variety of expressions (face-eyes-head-arms-hands-legs-feet-torso-back-body). intimately. in the same way. to get far. To understand and comprehend is a question of profound feeling and flow of energies: it represents the extreme limit of any artistic process. as well as. More than the five human senses. between being and surroundings. An art action interferes with the limits of human abilities. 3 . and .become pure impressionable sensuality. For this. When our senses allow us to go beyond the materialistic schemes of ordinary things. due to some natural intentions such as: to get closer. passive someone can be. patience and decisional ability of the performer.being inside a given space . provided that it is not invasive or constrictive: it is simply used like invisible instrument of recognition. so that possible truths and reality can interfere to transform into something unusual but strongly perceivable. objective or subjective. privately. may it be genetic. change throughout clear physical actions. Inside someone's own Self. the heart is the foremost sensor that allows an individual to look inwardly and profoundly. collective or individual. they can give birth to an experience both individual and collective at the same time. to find the right proceedings to reach a maximum degree of credibility and sincerity. which are carried out and came true by non-generic sequels. ideas. it is required an effort of whole empathy.implements in a fixed period of time. An experience that is civil. so far to get a more pure and concentrated perception of the many possible configurations in the scheme and in the configured system of the things. A prolonged effort can efficiently test these limits.interacting between one each other . as well as a deep comprehension of what does mean entropy throughout physical.

a tool for inner data activation. Unexpected structural models emerge from this scenario. Concepts. specifically. like the ‘network’ organization in which each performance artist can be not a mere virtual link. Quickness. to interactive Performances and Art Actions. social intelligence and eco-intelligence are carefully evaluated and kept in high esteem. between commitment and pleasure. to act transparently according to ideas and feelings. This idea is an increasingly vast concept that is being applied already to technology. clarity in the definition of objectives and possessing extreme reactivity to the unpredictable. one that requires. and increasingly more a ‘communicator’ of things once considered impossible. Performance art world is becoming progressively oriented toward networking globalization and innovation of communication. which seems always near to explosion. the manifested need to investigate the interface existing between living space and people. amplifies and reverberates the identity of a communication between performers and the others. art actions become expressions of a language that has made understatement its credo. new models of expression as well as strategic approaches. but more a real knot within a greater ‘valuable-creation system’. (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi) 3 In his prophetic Six Memos for the Next Millennium. are ineluctable qualities which a contemporary performer must have within the working area. like Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence 5 . Hence also the performer’s role is changing: by becoming increasingly less an ‘actionist of reputed and supposable nonsense’. 4 . flexibility. I will meet you there. in order to search for a balance capable to match with the needs of new work realities. Today artists and performers are increasingly developing a need for new instruments. Internet and media communication and. outlining new indications about ‘how to live this life’.4 It can be considered a definition or. an alternative and potential complement to traditional technical and rational abilities –. between exaltation and oblivion. which exists but often seems somehow forgotten: the ineffable. To implement this actual status. until reaching the current overwhelming of data. qualities such as. transparency. using art action itself as an intelligent ‘skin’ capable of mutating the physicality of the body into a ‘dream matter’. and pneumaticity 6 are essential to indicate what is the necessary capability of being adherent and/or adaptable to many different present situations and places discreetly. Strategy of action and vision setting. The urgency of a greater communication between the inside and outside of the system has always been a social need that follows from its origins. Multiplicity and Consistency as indispensable qualities to cherish literature.an indispensable attitude. better. as well as to internal political end economical processes and contemporary society too. also to face those streams that treat art results as if they were mere bits of information or superfluous products. PERFORMANCE ART: A SOCIAL ROLE BETWEEN ETHICS AND AESTHETICS Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. and new ways of thinking about their work. For instance.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis 2. using carriers of meaning precisely addressed to evoke what is stored in our memory. Exactitude. the performer's work helps to accomplish these things in a better and clearer way. Italo Calvino enhances Lightness. Visibility. a six-faced metaphor that can also be easily applied to economy. Out of this perspective.

in art. intermingling continuously between the real and the virtual. The concept of space has an evocative power. therefore becoming not ideological. or in open contrast and conflict. Actually space can offer itself as a limit. in art. Nowadays there are different forms of culture: every person can surely develop his/her culture by his/her own. was the beginning of assuming new responsibilities towards times changes’ complexity for mankind. but content to contain contents. John Utzon’s Sidney Opera House. and Frank Ghery’s Bilbao Gugghenheim Museum). truth. Truth. but often folkloristic. civil and territorial integrity. Looking at reality from different perspective brought Man back to that same reality equally transformed with it. it is not even a sentence. On the other hand. a verdict. This also to say that places where an individual is born and growth are important because they affect to some extent in the formation of character and personality. as free human being. The same notions of space and truth move throughout different level and degrees. the nature of things and their laws. 5 . is that anything is frantically consumed. Every person can have a canon. in the words of Lorenz.7 To consider Art as a tool for a profound reflection onto reality. they determine. something that cannot be overcome and that doesn’t allow to go further: a challenge both for language and thought. to clear or to create a void in order that something can happen like a proper event (not container of contents. Far less. it has originally been Heidegger who related art and language in an unusual way. having always clear in his/her mind that when the body lies. wherever they might be during the course of the evolution: a root deeply grounded into the collective genetic memory. is not an experience to be imposed to Man like the objects evidence. connected much more to the atmosphere and the environment than to the presence: it is a combination. a ruling or a declaratory judgment. a gathering and convergence of occasions and situations. social. The risk. However it can’t be neglected the fact that people are always somehow connected. nullification. It is a delicate encounter. better. cultural. which means that it is tied to a whole series of integrities that create the independence to be able to make a synthesis with a certain weight and consistency. when an action artist has clearly made the decision to use him/herself as a tool or. It put our mind in the position to claim for other concepts such as to widen (also metaphorically). It is also for this reason that. primordial phenomenon that might provoke some sort of fear too. differences mostly exist because of a matter of quality.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis 3. THE LAWS OF COMMUNICATION: SPACE. Consequently the idea of anthropos is due to criterion of political. as well as the actual point of discussion. However space is an original. TRUTH AND BODY IN ACTION In our modern times. produce and have his/her own culture. examples of which are Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Ronchamp. s/he must always be responsible to use his/her body primarily for its metaphorical value. That means that every person. as a mediator of expression and communication. is capable to make. To redesign or offer some of those that can be defined laws of communication. tied to a profound common root. s/he can do anything without firstly considering body’s biological laws. unexpected and more concentrated ways to look at the realm of the things. a kind of imprinting. although that person's point of view will always be partial. Joseph Beuys indicated very well the fact that contemporary art has ingrained inside itself the tendency to destroy tradition. it always confesses. Since then Art has started to offer to mankind new. Therefore.

into an open confrontation to enrich experience. scientists and artists have imagined the impossible body as a machine. an electrical soul. troubled. 4a. For this. On the other hand. Therefore an action artist must primarily recognized him/herself as a ‘tool’ of his/her own work. and. by the way.Virtual Body . an automaton. Golem. an Eve of the future. also Performance art workshops are a fundamental practice once aimed to investigate principally human existential conflicts. science and humanities: the relation between the human body and a machine. transformed into a place of signification in progress. an engine. beyond the same boundaries of body representation. cultural. it is must be always clear that more than a technical one. as well as the often hidden but truly existing relationships between humans and their discomforts and diseases (social-psychic-spiritual) which derive from one each other.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis 4. Philosophers and researchers such as Bojana Kunst 8 and Teresa Macrì 9 assert that the ‘impossible body’ of today is an extreme but however possible concept that deals with one of the most topical subjects in art. it is not the main subject. Conceptual Lines It is more or less accepted that Performance art cannot do without the human form. if we look at today Medicine. it is an aesthetic control and a manipulation of space (holy but empty space at the same time) that can drive both performer and the participant/spectator through creative and sensitive imagery and body language. In fact Action Art is mainly a research to explore and lead the vital capability of the body (at whatever condition it is left or subdue) to interact with reality and become a true visual place in which and where meanings (social/individual/spiritual) are produced. different. voice. and even beyond also what is enrooted in our collective imaginary. synthetic. Visionaries. but through the body offering new possibility to understand art as distinctive discipline that can lead us to a profound consideration about our destiny in our time. said or written words. but a full fledged subject. posture and. sound. To come to a range of whether solo or collective works/performances. spiritual. Actually. Nevertheless. The development of today Performance art research has been motivated from the study of gesture. All of these impossible bodies are subjects of an extraordinary study that comprises a period from the birth of modern science in the 18th century until the avant-garde artistic research of the 20th century and the new production of the beginning of the 21st. and sensation due by them. Often performance artists have mostly to deal with investigation of the Human Body throughout its own reading. a homunculus.only and just only . to focus on their own Body (and its own signs) as peculiar/predominant mean of communication: the Human Body and its own ways of expression. or demonstrate) .which are the effects on the human body of what it has been stated above. In so far the ‘contemporary body’ has been genetically modified and simulated by digital manipulations.Hybrid Body as pars construens of art action. now it must be considered not anymore as a mere object. the sound of silence. feelings. its organic boundaries completely re-designed. The essence of this particular kind of work is not to produce new models or icons through some demonstrative uses or arid performances of the human body. Science and Technology. but how and what is communicated throughout the whole body as membrane of spirit. movements. a glass man. fantasts. WHAT IS THE BODY To be an action artist means to improve the Self-knowledge by investigating the cutting-edge existing between “what I want to do and what someone want to do of/about me. Real Body . However. a marionette. as it can strongly bring back to nature what our deceptive mind sees as hybrid. a model of a digesting duckling. an iron woman. in many live performances. are we really aware of our body mutations through diseases and the consequent cures we look for fighting them? We really realize that we walk only if to walk somehow hurts us. while emotions. the Human Body interacting with auxiliary tools/media (video/sound technology and devices). philosophers. we cannot avoid to accept ourselves as witnesses of our own continuous bodily mutations and. are the unstoppable flowing stream that traverses it. this 6 . reshaped its meaning. corporal. consequently. Contemporary visual culture will obviously always be the common ground of recognition to investigate where to follow the traces of human mutations and conflicts. to investigate (or show. Therefore it is consequential that here the body is considered as an unknown landscape that invites one to explore its hidden manifestation. and video images are adopted only as vehicles for a poetry pure expression. and progressed into different areas of body investigation. Hence. a wax figure. diverse. the Human Body and its own interactions with the others and within reality. of which the essence is not what is said or shown. This is the platform for a string of theoretical works in constant evolution and transformation.

10 According to this instance and considering aesthetics itself the basis of ethics.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis direction will necessarily lead us out of that configured space.is offered the opportunity to re-establish a contact with the mystery that each one of us carries within him/herself. responsibility. soul. Analysis Starting from the assumption that art manifests the invisible in the visible. suggests the possible by confronting the impossible. how an outcome can be achieved in specific situations (possibility). inside the others) it is primarily necessary to externalize what is hidden inside someone’s own heart. the retraction of his/her Ego. analogical and digital: le lieu d’habitude of our daily life. and how do we determine them?” “If someone else can make better out of his/her life than I can. To stir up and provoke emotions (inside us. particularly in the consumer world. For example. 4c. according to Socrates “a self-aware person must act completely within its capabilities to their pinnacle. A performance action is needed to bring to discover and unveil the Self. in ethics the issues are most often multifaceted and the best-proposed actions address many different areas concurrently where the answer is almost never a ‘yes or no’. opens unforeseen realms. ‘right or wrong’ statement.. “If not. The ethics of the performer is outlined by different instances: which values should s/he determined (normative). To reach this condition the work must be silent. Performer’s (poetic) actions are at once obligatory and at the same time un-enforceable. egoism. it is consequential to consider valid the following hypothesis: for as the world spiritual condition improves. development. how his/her nature transforms (spirit/psyche). His body and actions. to reclaim lost or denigrated sources of knowledge. to work on the inner Self as instrument of Self-knowledge. Only in this way . if he wishes to attain self-knowledge. At the base of the performer’s work there are many elements/factors s/he must consider: to seek for 7 . A performer must not interpret something a priori assumed: a performer must act in accordance with his/her nature to realise his/her full potential.through the reconciliation with the inner Self . Actually. to valorise the visual as opposed to the verbal in art. Begeisterung und Würde (enthusiasm and dignity). He doesn’t play or interpret: he gives and delivers. virtue and vice. and meditative. how his/her capability develops in different situation. patient. Jean Baudrillard theorised that signs and symbols or simulacra had usurped reality. The performer is a poet (of actions) and an artist at the same time. disagreement. what indications people actually abide by (action and representation). bolsters that urgent desire to reintegrate art and life. the performer (as creative person in action) ethical core developed through art is very influential in the performer's later ethical choices. Relational and interactive actions are related to an ethics of care. and life experience.12 Post-structuralism and postmodernism are both heavily theoretical and follow a fragmented. it will invite us to enter into the real and virtual space where each one of us live. to become aware of every fact (and its context and circumstances) relevant to his existence. character. The Issue of the Question “What are human rights. but rather from observations of actual choices made by agents in practice. are instruments of creative freedom. into the so-called exhibition/production spaces of our own social and hybrid bodies. the full space of body experience where the ‘melting pot’ is a cosmogony that is biological. or to determine social issues and values.”11 Actually it is completely useless to imitate or interpret something a priori: this will cause distraction both for the one that acts and the one that watches. altruism. to reaffirm and re-identify with one’s cultural roots. evolution. are assumed with a value-free approach to ethics which examines reality not from a top-down a priori perspective. the process of making them. anti-authoritarian course which is absorbed in narcissistic and near nihilistic activities. it is more a matter of personal decision. Nevertheless people in general continue to be more comfortable with dichotomies (two choices). aesthetic quality will be increasingly valued. making ethical judgments regarding questions such as “Is lying always wrong?” and. 4b. and the practice of arbitration. In fact. behaviour etc. politics. Anything for him/her is a matter of consciousness and responsibility. concentrated. when is it permissible?” is prior to any etiquette. so the ability to formulate the questions are prior to rights balancing. “Where can one evade an uncomfortable truth without doing wrong?” it is not only a question to seek for a common sense. is it then moral to sacrifice myself for them if needed?” Without these questions there is no clear fulcrum on which to balance law. In Performance art topics such as the ones that involve the mind and are relevant to that issue: respect.

body movements. The psychic action that the performer expresses is not just the result of a profound experience. but mostly to ingrain it into different and more various metaphors. to meet. objects. to hazard. which is the direct action aimed to produce an object that is autonomous and extraneous to the producer him/herself. In this kind of work. to put at risk. to tax to the limit. to break into.and will always be . to feel to be connected. creating a non-casual synthesis of his/her own biography. a performer must never be artificial. and performance artists indicate many different similarities. only relying on an absolute creative freedom. and vice-versa. to discover what is useful for him/herself to externalize his/her own story. Whoever produces something. 4d. So far. and the desire is desire of reaching that goal. to hammer away at something. to put away. to search for the most profound. to arrange. to bare. and then they try to translate them in many other different terms. the mind disposition and the spirit to a minimum degree. I continue to believe that today has still more and more a sense to talk about (and re-consider) the concept of social sculpture formulated by Joseph Beuys. an ethic action (or moral too) is always an end in itself. to bring into focus and undermine beliefs and prejudices. to get started. The goal of the production is something else from the production itself. and to deal at the same time with one and the others’ own economical being and creative one. to put on. To understand and comprehend the external world is always part of an analogical process: individuals are not software’s. to try out. to confront. in order to express something different out of them. to edge and hive. it is not mainly to transform it into something spectacular or particular (here is the mistake). of becoming exceptional. Being contemporary means “to bare and tune our own Self into something”. that is ‘production of something’. to get close to truth. to confront his/her own story with others. The performer will never become the ‘man/woman of his/her own side’ if the performer's heart is busy with other personal things such as the desire of showing off. but that s/he can only relate technological devices to him/herself. However it is also important to remind that an artist is not a mere ‘machine’. a goal. to work on concentration. It is out of these moments that performer’s new Self arises. Defining a Possible Grammar For a performance artist it is necessary to get completely involved.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis his/her own archetypes. directly and personally. but in all times people have always had a manifested need to make art. to lay it on the line. primitive soul qualities. that person does it with an aim. to ground. if so it is much better to make mistakes. When technology becomes to be a part of the artistic and creative work. in order to re-direct the Self to discover unknown territories. if the performer is subdued by personal ambitions during his/her particular work. to put the Self over the barrel. to dump. to adopt and form a new own methodology (individual and/or collective). always with their body language. Personally. continuous research on Man. breathing.to question the presence of Man in this world. as it is necessary to bring the soul impulses. then s/he can also approach and use technology in a right way. unique etc. On the contrary. to tweak. and to perform arises from the need to reflect on Man problems and human relationships. Actually it is the retraction of performer’s own ego to allow him/her to be re-born as “new Self”. in the sense of quickness and synthesis. to uncover physically and emotionally. narcissism and egocentrism are obstacles. to drop down. Art is a constant. to hit for. to search for mutual sharing (with the others and one’s environment). to sleuth and get forth. to sharpen. or self-celebrative representation. Therefore the task of an artist is . neither a genial representation of the performer's inner life. a mere mise en scène. to strike down. to tune. to get off the ground. sounds. understand and comprehend his/her own heart. When a performance artist acquires competence on humanity (which means Poetry). to banish. to offer. to collect. or pretentious. which is always more than a condition. to arrange. he/she’ll never deepen one of the most profound secrets of creativity: to see. It is the full concordance of the performer's own inner imagination with the context around him/her. In fact. Aristotle was the first to distinguish the actions of humans in two different forms: the poièsis. to compare. and the production it is never a mere end in itself: it is always related to an object. in which society as a whole has to be regarded as one great work of art (the Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk) to which each person can contribute creatively. forgotten and a range of completely different moments emerge. voice. To understand technology (its use and meaning) is a pure creative act as well. In this moment performer’s private personality is put aside. because to act ethically is a goal. 8 . it must rather be a revelation from which a number of different experiences can be organize trough mutual relationships. which are always other ways of economic expression. while the goal of the action matches with it: to act ethically for good is an end in itself. It often seems that today artists (and particularly action artists) are all doing a complete useless job. A performance artist final work mustn’t be a narrative staging.

which is related to actions that have sense of themselves inside themselves. which in this case is the equivalent term of morale. a performance artist has also not to forget the importance to determine a style. as well as – better .to an entire society. which has been the predominant concept of the meaning of the term action in all European languages. 9 . cultural. positive or negative. spiritual values. To act as practice. fall within the idea of praxis. which are not aimed to a specific production of objects. that belongs to an individual.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis and the praxis.13 All moral actions. as ‘carrier’ of precise qualities with specific meanings within themselves: a style that enables to define social. Finally.

and ‘how long’ it will last. POSSIBLE EXAMPLES. as a final release of a long-endurance previous action. 8. Repetitive Action It consists of a concrete repetition of one action-element until its natural exhaustion. time or person/s. in an inactive. 1. 5. It is a form of action that starts and gives no (or not many) concrete hints on how it is going to develop further. 10. Beyond the visual impact that this created still-image can have on the viewer’s chain of associations. BEDEN IN MOTION. Invasive Action/Provocative Action It is an action that confronts the spectators with particular situations by exalting prosaic normal statements. who considered his act of creation/act of painting an autarchic. The moments of surprise and change of elements/topics. space. i. Hence the performance consists of the presentation of the result of the process of making to an audience. GESED. as like for Jackson Pollock. ordinary behaviours and bourgeoisie aspects.e. Open Action-Action It stimulates curiosity and tension through manifold symbols and/or changes of rhythm. Many contemporary performance actions are under this category. Gesed (mind-body) here is the foremost active element. space and relation. 5b. Conceptual Action Conceptual actions can take place without the presence of the action’s artificer. Further considerations To reach the most possible balanced composition in each artistic discipline there are however some “laws of conduction” to respect. 7. The limit between presenter and observer is torn down. An accurate ‘assemblage’ contributes to make the action dramaturgically clearer. Here the Gesem (bodybody) is obviously in a state of non-action. or by exposing ‘taboos’. 2b. the performer nullifies the boundary between himself/herself and the spectators’ limit by approaching the visitors and offering them personally a left over as memory-gift of the performance action. physical. the elements of action of Gesed (mind-body) and Beden (psyche-body) can be observed with particular care.Andrea Pagnes (VestAndPage): Body Issues in Performance art: Between Theory and Praxis ADDENDUM ON PERFORMATIVE ACTIONS: GESEM. The interest of the spectators lies within the questions of ‘how’ the action will develop. Destruction-Action It is an action based on the destruction of an object by the performer as sole action or. 5a. Poetic Action It is an action where the use of strongly related objects and settings are aimed to stimulate non-ordinary impulses within the spectators. as well as their direct or indirect influence on the minimal changes (i. and it can appear surreal. 10 . self-reliant piece of art. These performances are re-elaborated through the Gesed (mind-body) and finally realized with the Gesem (body-body). proceedings and the whole process of making are to be sufficiently and. urine. The closed action-action consists of one simple action with precise starting and ending. Action-Action It is a pure action. Gesem. intimacy and story. Materials. Closed Action-Action It is an immediately readable action with a predetermined and foreseeable ending/result. therefore ‘questioning’ on their position as spectators and their responsibility within the progress of the action itself. as they will start questioning themselves on what will finally happen. equally levelled to a certain degree in order to intermingle and dig deep. Sentimental/Personal Action It is an interesting combination of all the ‘three bodies’ that starts as an impulse from the Beden (psyche-body). and blasphemy. Gesed. It evolves in a way similar to dream-sequences. specifically objects which are elements of the performance. such as sex. Inter-Action It involves the audience as active (or inactive) participant/element of the performance. Relating to the audience At a certain moment of the action. 11. 2a. objects. Body-Action It is an apparently predominant Gesem (body-body) action. This is also valuable for Live art action and Performance art. facial expressions) of the Gesem (body-body). or if will something happen at all. Once they are elaborated and supported by a precise mindstructure. with the result of the creation and presentation of a final concrete object/piece of art. 3. 6. rhythm or intention can arise all at a sudden. flesh. It merely serves to arrive to an end conceived a priori. one can already see and determine in which way the action will finish.it previously creates a construction of mind-concept to be realized after (mostly by others than the author) in a specific final action or presentation.e. It can produced tension within the spectators. and the community moves on a common ground of reciprocally impressionable range of actions. Just right after its beginning. Non-Action It is the category pertinent at the previously mentioned above aspect of the three bodies. representative pose kept for the entire duration of the performance presentation. 4. violence. 9. they can also speak of a broader social context. These personal actions tell about personal and emotional aspects of the performer’s life. Voluntary or involuntary participation of one or more spectators The performer(s) invite or force the public to participate actively in the performance action. and shift the action towards any other reading/interpretation. Often the exposure of genitals is to provoke debunking socio-political statements within the witnessing audience. but then they request the active involvement of one or more other participants. which investigates the relation of the mechanical body in space and time. or the reactions of the various biological body-body elements like blood. etc.an action of the performers body-body (Gesem) in relation to object/s. 2. Creation-Action The performer creates functionally a concrete object or an installation during the performer's action. Beden.

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