Performance Art: Campo di produzione e aspetti relazionali

Toscano, Giuseppe (2010) Performance Art: Campo di produzione e aspetti relazionali. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


The study focuses on artists who adopt performance art as a form of creative expression within the world of contemporary visual art. Some performances are extreme exhibitions which often assume violent and aggressive forms; others are quasi-visible events like communication misunderstandings or reiterated behaviors which make the flow of ordinary interaction unusual and sometimes create a feeling of anxiety in the audience. There are of course basic differences between these kinds of performance; nevertheless, in the case of both the most spectacular events and «minimal performances», the artist acts at the borderline of what is explainable, and his/her artistic practices highlight the need to traverse the frontiers between traditional genres, mixing them up or forsaking them. A performance essentially consists in the creation of an interactive event, and artists manage the central elements of the interactive order: the dimension which, according to Erving Goffman, represents a reality in itself, possesses its own logic, and cannot be reduced either to macro-structural dimensions or to individual psychology. The topic of the research reported here can be summarized in the following question: how is it possible to turn a «social interaction» into an «artistic object»? The answer can be articulated on different dimensions: how a performance is projected, arranged and carried out; what happens during performance events; how such events can be recorded and conserved. A performance results from cooperation among a group of people which cannot be defined as a «system»: there are no formal roles, there are no fixed positions, there are no decisional centers. Nevertheless, the basic elements are in place for it to be possible to talk of the existence of an interactional unit: different social actors act together in an intentional, reiterated and settled manner. It is possible to find a great number of events which take place on specific sites and during which artists, venue managers, critics, collectors and performance audiences meet, work together, and share their interests. It is thus possible to use the term «sphere» to refer to a place to which admittance is granted only after an initiation process and rite of passage. In such «spheres» people follow careers based on internal, formal and informal hierarchical ladders. Moreover, there are subjects who act as gatekeepers, and myths and symbols are shared. The research was conducted in Northern Italy, where several towns were selected as central nodes in the Italian contemporary art field. I conducted in-depth interviews with subjects occupying the three main roles in the artistic field: artists, venue managers and curators, and art critics. The selection of the interviewees was based on their strategic position in the field. My purpose was to investigate the node that they occupied in the art world by combining two criteria: first, the spatial position of the environment in which they lived and worked (marginal, peripheral, central); second, the stage of their professional career (beginning, emerging, established).

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:XXII
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/07 SOCIOLOGIA GENERALE
Repository Staff approval on:28 Apr 2010 10:36

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