Intimacy, Ritual and Surprise in Contemporary Performance Art

Sophie Seita at the TLS:

Kia LaBeija Untitled, The Black Act Performance Space New York New York, N.Y. November 6, 2019 Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes

That desire for usefulness has always been a knotty issue for performance art, since it is often both accessible (live and affordable) and inaccessible (challenging and unfamiliar). Albers wrote a perspicacious pre-digital warning that might guide us in our approach to performance art. It is rare for us now, she said, “to handle materials, to test their consistency, their density, their lightness, their smoothness”. I am not advocating a performance practice of enforced interactivity and participation. Both the prohibitive “Do not touch” of conventional art galleries and the frequently misplaced attempt of curators to allow an audience to become “active” by pressing buttons are dodging the question. What would a true engagement with materiality look or feel like? One that alters our perception, our learning? “To perceive texture”, as Eve Sedgwick argued in Touching Feeling (2003), is to ask “How did it get that way? and What could I do with it?”

more here.