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What a Performance


There’s a series of performances coming up soon in Wicker Park, Chicago. I will try to see some of them, partly in order to review them for Hyperallergic or Time-Out, and also because I want to challenge myself to find out more about the genre.
As part of the opening night of my latest exhibition on Friday August 10th, I included a performance of sorts: people reading short narrative pieces about their father, ending with me pinning my father’s campaign medal to my chest before picking up my guitar and singing part of a John Lennon song. It was a pretty conventional performance setup, though: people arranged in chairs, listening to things read aloud or sung. I’m interested in finding out a couple of things: how much of performance art is based in that model of performer-spectator; and what exactly is the intellectual and aesthetic effect of the performance. My assumption is that performance art starts from a desire to disrupt the public space, and to confound the eventual spectator. But it can’t just be that.

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