Contemporary Performance Art

Prof. Dr. Caroline Lillian Schopp
Contemporary Performance Art

Seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS, 8 places
Wednesdays, 16-18 h, weekly, starts 20.4.2022, Hardenbergstr. 33, room 158
Please register until 12.4.2022 via email to c.schopp_!
Für Studierende der Bildenden Kunst nicht als Studium-Generale-Leistung anerkennbar!

This seminar departs from Amelia Jones’s provocative claim that it was feminist artists who initiated “performance art proper” in the late 1960s. Seen from this perspective, performance art begins with the critique of the posturing of patriarchy – and with attention to the positions such postures obscure. We will explore how performance art is not just a matter of artists performing – activating bodies, engaging viewers, orchestrating participation – but of interrogating the notion of performance itself, and the normative assumptions that inform it. Focusing on a diverse array of artists and practices, we will consider how they contribute to long-standing art historical preoccupations with form, perspective, materiality, and viewership. And how the study of performance art, in turn, enhances our understanding of ingrained tensions between action and passivity, success and failure, embodiment and mediation, affirmative and “negative” affects, and emancipation and dependency.

Performance art is exciting and often controversial because it troubles, without dissolving, the distinction between art and life, aesthetics and politics. The study of performance is for this reason an inherently transdisciplinary undertaking. Focusing on particular performances, each unit of this seminar will also introduce key terms and ideas from a broad archive of artists’ statements, art criticism, and art history, as well as feminist and queer theory, critical race studies, and political theory.

Three excursions will complement the seminar and provide the opportunity to consider performance art in-situ.

Readings: will be made available on the course website. No book purchases required.

Assignments & Evaluation: attendance & participation, including regular blog posts and peer responses based on a selection of the course readings; close-looking descriptive paper (2-3pp); critical interpretation paper (2-3pp); final research paper based on a performance and in dialog with a selection of the course readings.      

Caroline Lillian Schopp earned her PhD in Art History from University of Chicago (2017), MA in Kulturwissenschaft from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (2010), and joint-BA in the History of Art & Architecture and Germanic Languages & Literatures from Harvard University (2008). Her first book, In-Action: Viennese Actionism and the Passivities of Performance Art, is under contract with University of Chicago Press. Her research and teaching focus on performance and body art, textile arts, memory culture, and feminist historiography. Recent publications include: “Concrete Violence,” on Wolf Vostell’s use of the material concrete to emphasize structural and slow violence (Oxford Art Journal, 2021) and “Feminist In-Action,” which presents Ingrid Wiener’s tapestry collaborations with VALIE EXPORT and Dieter Roth as performing a feminist ethics of care (FKW, 2020). Her current book project, invoking Hannah Wilke’s ambivalent performance statement, is titled: ‘I Object’ – Duchamp’s Painting, Picasso’s Body Art.