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Performativity without Borders?
Art & Education
Above: A hotel worker taking an order.
A film still from Jean Luc Godard’s Passion, 1982
Above: A hotel worker taking an order.
A film still from Jean Luc Godard’s Passion, 1982

Since Art&Education announced our inaugural Paper Prize for innovative research in contemporary art history, we received an overwhelming response to a call for investigations into the relationship between economic deregulation and artistic production. Art&Education is excited to share the most recent selection of papers addressing performativity in light of the topic: No Rules–Negotiating Art and Deregulation.

Performativity without Borders?

A tableau vivant consists of a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist’s models, carefully posed in a still moment, who together form a ‘living picture.’ Surveying the push in recent art practice to emphasize processes and strategies of production rather than a resulting product, one might wonder: where do we begin to draw a frame for a contemporary ‘living picture’? This frame appears to be increasingly difficult to map as the line between art and life continues to blur. What Rosalind Krauss saw in early video art as an ‘aesthetics of narcissism’ has expanded into the culture of social media, and the pervasive demands of flexible labor to perform one’s work and one’s self creatively.

In the process of considering performative work as a metonymic of a broader set of social conditions, one can begin to see the ways in which performance functions as reflexive to the frame of the ‘living picture’ while shifting the possible purview for actions quoted in this frame.

The following series of papers address a set of investigations into the possibilities and limits of performance without borders.

Anna Watkins Fisher‘s We Are Parasites: On the Politics of Imposition proposes parasitism as a conceptual frame that has come to characterize not only the economy of relations of late capitalism but also work by a younger generation of feminist artists.  Engaging the work of British artist Roisin Byrne, among others, she argues that the parasite offers an inventive model for inverting perceptions of Western feminism and feminist art as cultural impositions and lost causes.

Irmgard Emmelhainz‘s text Art Under the New World Order asks, if we understand deregulation as the absolute rule of the market, what are the conditions of aesthetic production under deregulation? How has art and aesthetic production been influenced by the predominance of Neoliberalism and by the shift toward cognitive production (creativity) as a source of surplus value? In this scenario, art joins the economy of knowledge and become subject to Culture Industry, as it has become an asset on the one hand, and it has fulfilled its avant-garde potential having morphed everywhere to become embedded into everyday life, on the other. Here she explores how art and its production have been influenced by the predominance of Neoliberal ideology and the stakes for politically engaged artwork.

Bhavisa Panchia‘s Trickster Tactics in the Artwork of Robin Rhodeexplores playful and humorous strategies employed by contemporary South African artist Robin Rhode to critique the socio-political conditions of post-Apartheid South Africa. As a shape-shifter and disruptor, the ‘trickster’ offers resistance to dominant ideologies and ruptures popular complacency with the world as we know it .

Eva Kenny’s research paper, Existential Embarrassment, navigates a shift from theories of the biopolitical to ideas of the affective in contemporary art criticism. It researches the concepts of blushing and embarrassment and, with particular reference to a 2009 performance by the painter Jutta Koether, develops the idea that embarrassment is performance art’s version of institutional critique. Her performance uses individual, social and artistic consequences of political and economic deregulation, and plays with dematerializing their effects in those watching. How could affect be controlled or used as medium in performance and other visual arts, for example, how it might be useful to try to understand to something like “bad art” or “bad painting” in relation to skepticism?

A free contributor-driven platform, A&E Papers seeks to expand publication opportunities for art historians, theorists, curators, and artists, and to make papers more easily available to the public. As A&E Papers continues to grow, we are reiterating our call for new and existing scholarly articles from around the world.

Texts should be research-based articles pertaining to art history or contemporary art, and can be culled from conference papers, seminar papers, dissertation chapters, etc. We ask that you submit pieces anywhere from 2,000 to approximately 7,500 words and include a 100-word abstract and full contact information (or publication information for previously published texts).

All submissions are welcome and will be considered for publication on the website. Please submit articles by email [email protected]

July 15, 2011