The Expanded Body
The Expanded Body
Instructions for use
text by Giorgio Maffei.
Performance is the artistic expression in which the action of an individual or a group,carried out in a specific place and time, constitutes the work. It can take place anywhere and at any moment, and for any determined length of time.
A way of defining its signification is to affirm that performance can be any situation that involves the following four basic elements: time, space, the body of the artist and the relation between artist and public - in contrast to painting and sculpture, where the work is an object.
The origins of performance as an expression derived from figurative art can be found in the avant-garde of the early 20th century. Dadaists, Futurists and Surrealists paint, compose and write, but also theatricalize artistic expressions and behaviors.Marinetti recites, Cangiullo extends words in freedom, Mayakovsky slaps the public, Dalí is extravagant, Duchamp dresses as a woman. Later on, painters such as Pollock, Mathieu, Fontana and Gallizio, who still employ the use of color in their paintings, transform the brushstroke into a gesture loaded with expressive power.
From the 60s onwards this trend gathers momentum, as ideas around the indissolubility ofArt and Life are embraced. The influence of John Cage and later of his student Allan Kaprow, and also of Robert Rauchenberg, allied to the dissolution of the artistic space promoted by the Japonese group Gutai, engenders the foundation for an activity that ultimately conditions the next twenty years.
Kaprow writes: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps as indistinct as possible. The moment of performance is a strong, sacred, mythic alone, in which our perception, our behavior and even our identity end up being modified.”
This is the context in which Yves Klein acts, as he spins nude bodies impregnated with blue paint or conducts a mute orchestra, or even as he leaps off a window ledge into the void in a street in Paris.
In response Piero Manzoni signs nude models and elevates the ordinary man, standing on a pedestal, to the category of a work of art.
The process of “dematerialization of the art object” has begun.
During these years, and based on these premises, the practice of photography is reinforced – produced by image professionals but directed by artists – as a peculiar expressive medium for the transmission and conservation of works.
The photographic images retain memories, conserve traces, and employs multiple means to contemporaneously transcribe other images and words, as well as the meanings of a modality of art-making that deeply marked the development of the history of the second half of the 20th century.
Hence, this exhibition attempts to detain time, in seeking to recount the actions capable of giving form and duration to the performance event, through a selection of original photographs.
The show provokes and requests the visitor to surrender a predetermined way of looking in favor of a more active participation, and perceptively proposes a sense of sharing and communion in regards to the content of the material displayed.