Action, Object and Audience
Everything about installation art’s structure and modus operandi repeatedly valorized the viewer’s first-hand presence – an insistence that ultimately reinstates the subject (as an unified entity), no matter how fragmented or dispersed our encounter with the art turns out to be. Perhaps more precisely, installation art instates the subject as a crucial component of the work – unlike body art, painting, film and so on, which (arguably) do not insist upon our physical presence in a space.
This paragraph embodies the main conclusion to which Claire Bishop arrives in her book Installation Art: A Critical History (2005). In this study, Bishop develops the reading of installation art since its beginnings in the 1930’s to this day based on the role the presence of the spectator takes – either physically or psychologically – within the work.
We can exchange, in this quote the word spectator for artist, and we can introduce performance instead of installation and thus, Bishop’s definition is equally relevant for Performance Art. Only the subject in this case would be the artist.
Until now, most of performance study was undertaken starting from its narrative development, while installation art research – as we see in Bishop’s book – was centered in the role of the spectator and the different ways he or she is activated by the art work.
This methodological disparity accounts for the fact that these two branches of contemporary art can be seen as a mirror image of each other. In fact, both are based in the principle of presence – of Active Presence. In performance art, it is the presence of the artist that is tantamount – in installation, the spectator. When reflected onto one another installation and performance art develop in divergent directions that are opposed but also superimposed, thus creating an axis between two poles. Along this axis are infinite possibilities of interaction. Performance becomes transitive.
ACTIVE PRESENCE: Action, Object and Audience is comprised of works – most of which are new productions specifically created for this show – that gain significance at this juncture. Its aim is the conflation of performance and installation into a diverse landscape of dynamic installations activated by the artists and/or the audience within the museum’s gallery walls. There are works in which the audience take a more passive role, while the artists are the activators. Conversely, there are also installations whose existence depends upon the participation of the public. There is work that also functions in both domains. In all is found a unique territory betwixt and between genres where conceptually layered relationships uncommon to the experience of pure performance or installation reside.
During October 5th and 6th the installations will be activated through different performances.
Curated by: Sergio Edelsztein and Kathleen Forde
Artists: Maja Bajević, John Bock, Gary Hill, Thom Kubli, Mads Lynnerup, Alastair MacLennan, Sergio Prego, Gema Ramos, La Ribot, Carlos Rodríguez-Méndez, Nerea Santisteban, SUE-C + AGF
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