PerformanceArt.nl is an initiative by Dutch artist Ronald Bal and Cultural Theorist Nathanja van den Heuvel that aims to inform about performance art events and exhibitions in the Netherlands and to contribute to performance art research, bringing scholars, critics and artist together. Balancing on the border between different disciplines and on the border between art and life, there is little insight in what is currently happening in the field of performance art. PerformanceArt.nl aims to fill this lacuna.
From its origin, that might be situated with Richard Wagner’s Gesammtkunstwerk’ it has always been far from easy to give a clear definition of performance art. In a documentary about Marina Abramovic’s retrospective at MOMA, she explains to be surprised not having been asked the question: “Is performance art Art?”, for a long time. While Abramovic’s legacy probably saved her from this question of legitimacy, her reaction clearly reveals what’s at stake within the perception of performance art. In the article ‘Art which can can’t be Art, Allan Kaprow explains that the developments within modernism itself, made it possible that daily life could enter the art world, blurring the boundaries between art and life. “Art in the West has a long history of secularizing tendencies, going back at least as far as the Hellenistic period. Art shifted away from the Specialized object in the gallery to the real urban environment, to the real body and mind, to communications technology, and to remote regions of the ocean, sky and desert.”(Kaprow, Art which can’t be Art, 1986) The correspondences and mutual dependency between art and life is something that cannot be overlooked at. But, as Kaprow explains, an artist concerned with lifelike art is an artist who does and does not make art. (Kaprow, Art which can’t be Art, 1986) Transposed to the debate on the status of performance art we are up to conclude that performance art is inherently paradoxical. In other words, performance art exists as an insoluble tension between art and life itself. But, as we would like to argue, that which causes this vulnerable position of the discipline forms at the same time its creative potential. Since performance art is characterized by paradoxicality, it grants the art world not only metaphorical power, as Kaprow suggests, moreover it forces the art world to question its own values and assumptions. As such performance art enables a renewed possibility of a critical attitude and forces us to invent new ways of (re)presentation. PerformanceArt.nl is created to reinforce the creative potential of performance art, providing a platform for exchange of information, ideas and knowledge.