The Analysis of Performance Art
a guide to its theory and practice

Performance Art became popular in the fifties when artists began creating 'happenings'. Since then the artist as a performer has challenged many of the accepted rules of theatre and radically altered our notion of what constitutes visual art. This is the first publication to outline the essential characteristics of the field and to put forward a method for teaching the subject as a discipline distinct from dance, drama, painting or sculpture. This finely illustrated book offers a simple yet comprehensive 'grammar' of a new discipline.

Taking the theory of primary and secondary colours as his model, Anthony Howell posits three primaries of action and shows how these may be mixed to obtain a secondary range of actions.  Based on a taught course, the system is designed for practical use in the studio and is also entertaining to explore. Examples are cited from many performance practitioners, among them Bobbie Baker, Orlan, Stelarc, Annie Sprinkle and Robert Wilson, together with groups such as Goat Island and "Station House Opera.

This volume however is not just an illustrated grammar of action - it also shows how the syntax of that grammar has psycho-analytic repercussions.  This enables the performer to relate the system to lived experience, ensuring a realisation that meaning is being dealt with through those actions and that the system set forth is more than a dry structuring of the characteristics of movement.  Freud's notion of transference and Lacan's understanding of repetition are compared to a performer's usage of the same terms. Thus the book provides a psychoanalytic critique of performance at the same time as it outlines an efficient method for creating  live work on both fine art and theatre courses.

Publisher: Harwood Academic Publishers  (Now on the Routledge Harwood list)
Series: Choreography Theatre Studies
Extent: 254pp - 6" x 9" (150 x 230mm)
47 illustrations (13 in colour)
Cloth ISBN 90-5755-085-7
Paper ISBN 90-5755-086-5

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