Performance as visual art

For four days every quarter, Arnolfini opens up its gallery spaces for performance art. While the surrounding space affects the perception of all art forms, it has usually been most integral to making meaning in performance as the performer can incorporate each inch of the performance space into the act by moving through it. So what implications does the art gallery space have on the various performances? The answer is, as always, for you to find out in the video coverage on artplayer, but let me just ponder on couple of things first.

It seems to be the trend these days to push the boundaries and take certain art form to places where they are not usually seen. Remember the Contemporary Art Society North experiment where visual art was taken away from galleries and put up in people’s homes? Maybe that is where Arnolfini sent their artworks for the duration of the 4 days to make room for the performers… The general effect is, no doubt, liberating – as suggested by a gallery guest in the video, who thinks that seeing performance in this purpose-built space for the visual arts brings about questions why do we normally exhibit only visual art in such a way.

The other realisation that emanates from this event is that everything that is brought between the traditional white walls of art galleries, immediately becomes important. If we saw the same performances on the street, we might think that the artist running around with toilet paper is just someone trying to be funny. In an art gallery it becomes serious and the audience becomes attentive. Not that this is a new discovery  – that is, after all, exactly how first works of avant-garde art such as plain toilet seats became to be taken seriously.





Text by Kati Jägel


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