Performance Art

A Brief Survey of Incredibly Shocking Performance Art Pieces

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By now you’ve probably heard the news that in the next few weeks artist Marni Kotak plans to give birth at Bushwick’s Microscope Gallery in front of a live audience. Whether you’re a fan of the unabashed concept or skeptical if the audience alone warrants this being called art, certainly it has grabbed your attention. Suddenly, this usually private, explicitly corporeal physical ordeal/bodily function/miracle has turned into a public spectacle. How could you look away? It’s not the first time that a performance artist has incorporated a shock element into their work. Sometimes, the results have been amazing and mind-freeing. Sometimes, not so much. Let’s take a look at some of the physically daring, sexually risque, disturbingly disgusting, and potentially deadly performances.
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Watch James Franco's New Music Video

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In case this tidbit got lost in your daily pile of James Franco news, let’s review: the actor/artist/filmmaker/author/Oscar host recently announced that he’s releasing a dance EP, a collaboration with his performance-art soul mate Kalup Linzy that boasts production by DJ/rupture. Because Franco never does anything halfway, each song from the duo of 7-inches will get its own music video. Today, Stereogum brings us the first clip in the series, for “Rising.” And it’s pretty much what you’d expect: a project floating somewhere in that zone between Internet meme and video art, with Franco doing backup vocals for Linzy’s slightly off-kilter R&B panty-dropper. There are some hazy double exposures, a good amount of casual drag theatrics, a lot of purposefully bad effects, and the whole thing begins and ends with Franco and Linzy apparently spacing out on a couch in what looks like a cloud of smoke. It’s a fairly useful framing device, if you ask us. Watch the video after the jump, and let us know if you’ll be dreaming of James Franco’s smirking, disembodied head tonight.
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A Brief Survey of X-Rated Art [NSFW]

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The words “art whore” get thrown a lot these days… Surely, there are reasons why artists tread the line between visual art and pornography and between performance art and sex work other than to titillate, provoke and anger the public. Chinese artist Cheng Li was recently sentenced to a labor camp for performing such risque acts — and under a repressive political regime to boot! In light of this risktaker and in tribute of all those controversy-makers that create out of our most carnal acts — or try to — let’s survey some specimens of this art trend. Make your own conclusions. Oh, and this one is most definitely not for sensitive types.
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Understated Street Art: 365 Art Jars Released in the Wild

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While poking around over at 365, we came across this lovely, understated street art/community performance art project by British artist Kirsty Hall. She explains, “Every day during 2011, I’m going for a walk where I release an art jar into the wild for people to find. The jars are documented on the blog, usually daily. To my great delight, people have enthusiastically entered into the spirit of the project by reporting their finds and some have even been repositioning the jars for others to find.” We wish we lived in Bristol so that we could be on the lookout for Hall’s charming art jars – it’s like an Easter egg hunt every day, only instead of chocolate bunnies, you find art. Click through to see some of Hall’s jars, both up close and in situ, and click here to see more and follow along with her project.
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Video of the Day: A Symphony Played by 200 Vintage Household Appliances

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German conductor, harpsichordist and composer Michael Petermann spent eight years creating “The Stupid Orchestra,” an art installation-slash-35-minute noise symphony out of over 200 small household appliances. Petermann ‘auditioned’ hundreds of vacuums, electric mixers, washers, and other machines to create the perfect balance of sound and visual presentation, choosing only appliances designed between 1940 and 1975. As he explained, ” I refused to take younger ones [because], in general, design of the late ’70s and ’80s changed considerably towards making things look alike”… “People recognize their parents’ or even grandparents’ kitchen when they first see the installation, and become thrilled by their beloved machine’s heightened second life as an artist.” To compose the actual machine music, Petermann designed his own system, which he calls the “MIDI-to-Household-Appliance-Interface.” The program runs off his laptop and controls the on/off switches of all the appliances. Click through to see a preview of the symphony and check out some photographs – the installation will play every hour at MKG Hamburg until April 30th.
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Performance Artist Terence Koh Traverses A Mound of Salt

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Performance artist Terence Koh attracts the press once again. In his exhibition nothingtoodoo at the legendary Mary Boone Gallery in New York, Koh has taken a vow of silence and slowly circles a giant mound of salt on his knees with a monk-like reverence. With only one week left in the show, this weekend’s crowds grew thick.

The new work is a departure for Koh, whose previous sculptures, installations, and performances, while diverse, tended to expose a domme personality. Here, the physical endurance required of the work evokes many of the same questions viewers asked last year at famed Marina Abramovic’s exhibition at MoMA in New York, The Artist Is Present. When does the artist eat? How will he go to the bathroom? What will happen to his knees? Also, why does he like white so much and what’s the significance of the salt? Is anyone making spin off art or attending several times through out the course of the show? The following photo essay documents his current show, and answers a few of these questions.
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Video of the Day: The World’s Fattest Contortionist

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Matt Alaeddine, also known as “Fat Matt” and “Powermann,” of Edmonton (of course he’s Canadian), claims he is the world’s fattest contortionist. Well, we suppose there has to be a world’s fattest everything. But is Alaeddine a real contortionist or just a slightly more-flexible-than-average fat guy in gold spandex flopping about? Whatever he is, he’s officially hilarious. Choice quotes: 1. “I have traveled to many countries, and done many things. Obesity — it’s working for me.” 2. “My weight fluctuates depending on the candy associated with the season. I mean, we’re just coming out of, at this point, the Christmas rush, the Halloween rush, so I’m sittin’ pretty at over 400.” 3. “I’m just a dirty carney, but people think I’m some kind of rockstar. It’s the best life.” Read the story at the Edmonton Journal and watch the video after the jump.
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Video of the Day: Girl Walk // All Day

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This is a video of a girl dancing her face off around, on and through the Staten Island Ferry, wearing what we can only imagine is an outfit picked out by a hipster and a middle schooler forced to compromise. She (and two somewhat more put-together gents) dances to Girl Talk blasting from speakers hidden around the Ferry in front of a pretty blase crowd of onlookers. It’s the perfect combination of so-embarrassing-for-them-you-can-barely-watch and actually really impressive. This nearly 8-minute video is part of a project to create an album-length music video to go along with Girl Talk’s newest album All Day, which is 71 minutes long. Well, sounds awesome, but we’ll believe it when we see it. Regardless, this girl’s got skills. But, wait, she also looks like a total crazy person. Needless to say, we love her.
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Laurie Anderson's Beautiful Delusion

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“I’ve been asleep for 20 years,” says Laurie Anderson in a video interview (posted below) about her performance piece Delusion, which made its New York premiere last week as part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s yearly Next Wave Festival and continues into early October. She doesn’t mean this in the Rip Van Winkle sense. Rather, she’s talking about the cumulative time she’s spent asleep in her 63-year-old life and the dreams that provide much of Delusion’s content.
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Life Advice from World Poetry Slam Champion Buddy Wakefield

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Buddy Wakefield, the two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion known for wordplay that stretches reality beyond ordinary limits, has shaped the art of spoken word with a fierce truth that touches the soul. Flavorpill sat down with him recently to get acquainted with the guy who left his position as the executive assistant at a biomedical firm in 2001, gave away everything he owned, moved into his car, and set out to “live for a living,” touring North American poetry venues. One thing led to another, and now he’s one of 20 featured live performers at our Yoga at The Great Lawn event on June 22.

Read on for a hint of what goes into his performances, and if you really want to find out what could make us laugh, cry, and scream simultaneously, get there early to catch him up close next Tuesday in Central Park.
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