Ahoy, ahoy!

We’ve launched into performance art, as I’ve mentioned previously.  Performance art is incredibly body-centric.  If there was no body, there would be no performance!  Thus, how the body behaves and interacts with the audience is what truly gets the message of the piece across.  What costumes are being worn?  Are there even costumes at all?  How is the body interacting with the audience?  Is the audience even aware that they are an audience?  So many different factors come into play, and the success of the piece is dependent on all of them.  And even then, the piece will always be different because we are never existing in the same way at any given time.

Some performances are done on stages, some for video cameras.  Others are done in public space, when the people around may not even know what they are witnessing.  But for the most part, performance is united in the focus it places on the body.  Performance art developed a strong following of both people interested in it, and those who practiced it in the 1970’s.  Coincidentally, this is the same time period that focus on the place of the body in society was becoming a dominant focus of anthropology.  Many anthropologists began centring their ideas around the importance and place of the body in society, and developing theories related to how we view the body’s role.

A interesting phenomenon among human beings is how we will automatically be drawn to focus on something when it is undergoing a change.  The body was no different.  Over the 20th century, technology became more and more advanced as time progressed.  Suddenly, to see or communicate with someone did not require actually being physically in the same place.  You had photographs and telephones, radios, then televisions, movies.  Computers and the Internet would catch on later.  Additionally, the 1970’s were a time of liberation from stereotypical roles attributed to gender and race.  People were breaking down barriers every which way you turned.  Suddenly, not only were you communicating differently with others, you were communicating with different people in different ways and contexts from the past.  Your body was communicating with other bodies in a new way.  And this is what spurned anthropologists and other social scientists to begin theorizing and discussing the body and it’s societal role in an almost instantaneous way.

I truly believe that the onset of performance art in Canadian society had much to do with this new context the body was being placed into.  After all, art imitates life, and life was focused around the body and the liberation of the body.

That’s all!

Brit

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