The OOO lecture sent me thinking of how does performance art deal with this concept especially with the live arts such as dance. Drawing on Michal Helfmans interpretation of Dorothea von Hantelmann, the idea of the subject that the modern society put so much effort into nurturing is turning out to be quite a failure. Not just on the agential level, but as discussed in the lecture, also on an ontological level. With new materialism concepts at hand, there is a path for understanding how a subject is constructed and some strategies in the art world which are examined for this purpose are through communal, relational contexts and the idea of having a tradition to flexibly correlate with (either existing or imagined). At the center of attention- body+time and the ritual (=event) this combination potentially encapsulates.
in the 90s there started to appear performative events as art installations, with perspectives such as the relational aesthetics of Bourriaud underpinning them conceptually. The important move here is towards framing of events and humans and their actions as objects we look at and reflect. This comparison does not only challenge the economy of objects and ready made in the art world, but also does the opposite- pose questions on the human subject and its many layers, its consciousness. Helfman raises the question of where does the line pass between the subject and the object? well, framing it in the capsule of a museum for example makes the question more clear- the performer, as opposed to the painting for example, communicates. Returns the gaze. interprets. changes. There is a certain engagement which happens both ways.
Tino Sehgal (who’s video is at the top of this post) is a great example for art that raises the question of ontology of the subject through art. His dancers are presented in the museum, but he forbids taking pictures of them as they are not an object. On the other hand, in the framing of the museum they ARE objects. The dancers (“living sculptures” in his word) in some of his works need to adhere to the rules of place, meaning the work operates in all the hours of the museum as the other works that are presented. How can the human perform for so many hours non-stop? well, Sehgal solves this by creating shifts between performers, in complete sync with each other so that the object does not disappear for a second from the space- it does not cease to be the artistic object by going back to being a subject. The works of Sehgal are also part of the economy of objects- they BELONG to museums collections, are traded, owned, but then also keep on being ephemeral, embodied and also not, consisting of subjects-objects.