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What is performance art?
JAMES KING

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Performance Art is authentic response to the essence of experience transformed and outwardly expressed in appropriate singular form.

The experience of performance is transformative for the performer.

S/he is in an altered state (even minimally) during the performance; and is more open to experience, aware and perceptive afterwards. Events and feelings are not judged but received as source for performance.

Performance is organic. The performer discovers the starting point, follows her/his intuition, pushing boundaries, challenging, testing her/himself, and maintaining focus on the form - which may itself be evolving. A performance is not a safe place.

It is a place for challenge and growth. It may be enjoyable. It might even be fun.

It might also be a group experience. In this case each person can be a source for the other. So that the overall form is a composite development. There is mutual engagement, tolerance, challenge and response. Give and take, offer and accept.

The performance is actually or potentially in public view. If an audience is there the performer welcomes the audience as witness, is influenced by and responsive to their presence but is not performing for them. Their appreciation or rejection is THEIR business. Reflection without blame (honest and sincere, positive evaluation) follows performance and may generate material for further work. Forget your mistakes, there is no such thing as failure. There are only levels or degrees of authenticity.

A performance artist may use a score, or have some self generated rules - which can be broken.

A performance might adhere to a manifesto or set of principles, grounded in a value system or set of beliefs.

Self-evaluation would be guided by these underlying or over-arching thoughts and theories.

Reflection on practice might lead to a re-valuation of principle.

My personal manifesto values the following concepts: attention to this moment, here and now awareness; presence; risk yourself but not the audience; challenge orthodoxies and authority; much performance makes use of objects - found and everyday objects are most suitable;let your voice be an instrument rather than a baton; there's nothing as fun as a pun; performance is not acting, there is no pretence in performance art; there is reality, sincerity and integrity; what matters is: relevance to the environment, relevance to the audience, relevance to current social and community issues, relevance to world concerns, eco friendliness, friendliness, beauty, sensitivity, courage; find performance forms within the repertoire of your behaviour which you are comfortable with; push the performance beyond your zone of comfort; observe yourself; don't be intimidated, most observers are either friendly or indifferent, have short memories and heads full of their own stuff; listen to your body.

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