Art Performance and Place
Framed within a self-referential context, performance's generative function concerns the medium's intrinsic aesthetic properties and their abilities to engender
By stating that the place has little bearing on the generative function intrinsic to performance, I do not deny the subliminal influence that a place exerts on artists and their activities. Indeed, even the most “objective” factors of a place—say the climate, sunshine, earthquake threat, traffic, architecture, and ecology of L.A.—affect an artist's lived reality and thus her/his imaginary outputs. Besides, “the place” may be chosen by the artist as subject matter, a theme, or a character in a performance. I distinguish, however, between L.A. as a performative representation and L.A. as the surrounding environment. Should L.A. become thematized in a piece, I hold that the performance is about L.A., rather than necessarily of L.A. A performance about L.A. doesn't have to happen in L.A.; it can be conceived and produced anywhere. A performance of L.A., conversely, cannot exist the way it does without the particular L.A. that has inspired and produced it at a given time/space axis. A performance of L.A. may happen in L.A., or it may travel to other regions and countries as L.A. art. Given that all the performances treated here are fundamentally of L.A., I understate the import of L.A. in my present analysis only to emphasize art performance's individualistic, relatively autonomous, and self-referential qualities.
The generative function intrinsic to art performance has less to do with the external than the internal environment wherein the art-making takes place. Art performance gains momentum from the innate condition of the performance medium; the medium, however, encompasses simultaneously the artist, the method, and the formal contents (message), featuring a triangular zone of fluid interactions. The artists distill their methods from interacting with the medium, thereby creating the “internal environments” for their artmaking. Onthe whole, art performance practitioners generate new works after intensive studies of the medium's aesthetic/conceptual properties and limits. They immerse themselves in a gestating process whereby they gain a command of the medium through practice, a keen examination of other performances, and an awareness of the conventions, fashions, and innovations within the art world. The artists working in the vein of art performance usually have already achieved a certain level of technical expertise prior to the performance.