“Living the Dream”

So I’m kind of isolated up here in my tiny hotel room, hence the over-blogging.  Friend just sent a fantastic piece about performance art, excerpted below:

Can you tell us about another piece from the 20th century we should not forget?

Chris Burden, 1971, December 21-24: Disappearing – “I disappeared for three days without prior notice to anyone.”

What’s unforgettable about this?

Well, can you imagine trying to do that today, bound as we are by constant digital ties? People wouldn’t only immediately think that we were dead in a ditch; they would probably take our unannounced disappearance as offensive.

James disappears for three days. He eventually returns and resumes the conversation.

Thanks for coming back James. Do you draw lines around gallery-sanctioned performance art and other kinds of contingent actions that take place in everyday life?

Outside the official realm of performance art, I think Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final might be the greatest performance of this century, and it must not be forgotten.

Why so?

Zidane was sacrificing what was most important to him – winning the World Cup for France in his last-ever game of football – and also taking some satisfaction in defying the fairy-story ending to his career everyone wanted to write. He was “taking a strike at himself.” This is the phrase Slavoj Zizek uses in The Fragile Absolute to describe an apparently irrational and self-destructive act: “This act, far from amounting to a case of impotent aggressivity turned against oneself, rather changes the coordinates of the situation in which the subject finds himself: by cutting himself loose from the previous object through whose possession the enemy keeps him in check, the subject gains the space of free action. Is not such a radical gesture of ‘striking oneself’ constitutive of subjectivity as such?” This is an excellent definition of performance art.

I’m thinking that maybe my red robe wandering last night was a performance piece?  Or I am a pretentious shit.  These two things are not mutually exclusive, I guess.

James Westcott and Shumon Basar discuss performance art:


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