A Short History of Performance – Part II

Whitechapel Gallery, London
18 – 23 November 2003

A Short History of Performance - Part II spans over 40 years of performance art – from its explosion on the scene in the early 1960s to the present day. Showcasing artists who use words and ideas as their raw material, this season of live performances infiltrates the academy to explore the lecture as a work of art.

This second performance season follows the Whitechapel’s critically acclaimed A Short History of Performance – Part I, 15 – 21 April 2002, which re-presented key works performed live by some of the most significant artist of the 1960s and 70s. A Short History of Performance – Part II casts artists as professors, historians, businessmen and broadcasters who use the lecture format to question ideas of authority and truth.

From Robert Morris’ parody of Erwin Panofsky’s art historical lectures to Martha Rosler’s feminist take on the domestic, the season brings together re-enactments of pioneering performances, new commissions and important documentation. The week long-season includes key performances by The Atlas Group, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Inventory, Robert Morris, Martha Rosler and Carey Young, as well as a day-long installation of Joseph Beuys’ Lecture Actions. Tackling history, politics feminism and art itself in their subject matter, A Short History of Performance – Part II promises to be another unmissable week of live performance art.

A Short History of Performance – Part II is part of an ongoing programme strand at the Whitechapel which focuses on movements that changed the modern art canon. Previous shows have included Inside the Visible (1996), Live in Your Head (2000) and A Short History of Performance – Part I (2002).

Notes for Editors

· A Short History of Performance – Part I featured live performances by Stuart Brisley, The Bernsteins, The Kipper Kids, Hermann Nitsch and Carolee Schneeman, with an installation by Jannis Kounellis.

· Performance art originated in the live actions of the Futurists, Dadaists and the Bauhaus, re-emerging in the 1950s when the body was increasingly used as both material and site for art.

· Pioneering figures included Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Joseph Beuys. Performances, actions and happenings are staged in real time, engage in a direct relationship with the audience and may be staged in a gallery or on the street. Artists may enact rituals, undergo tests of endurance or perform gestures to use the body as a way of exploring art and ideas – cultural, political and social.

· A brochure accompanies A Short History of Performance – Part II, priced at £5.95. Publications documenting performance art currently available include The Artist’s Body (Phaidon Press, 2000), Out Of Actions (Thames & Hudson, 1998) and Performance – Live Art Since the 60s (Thames & Hudson, 1998). Recent exhibitions include LA Museum of Contemporary Art’s Out of Actions and the Tate Modern’s Performing Bodies.

· A Short History of Performance – Part II is made possible with the support of The Elephant Trust and The Felix Trust for Art.

· A Short History of Performance II is organised by the Whitechapel and curated by Andrea Tarsia.