MOCA Jacksonville: ReFocus: The Art of the 1970s

July 7, 2012 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Performance Art and Video were a major part of the emerging Contemporary Art Scene of the 1970s. They are featured in the current MOCAJacksonville show, which is second in a series of a yearlong survey of Contemporary Art in the Contemporary Era. Join us after the jump for Curator Ben Johnson's notes!

An outgrowth of the Conceptual Art movement—which de-emphasized the making of objects in favor of the translation of an idea into visible forms—Performance Art emerged in the mid-1960s. By the 1970s, the movement grew to robust proportions. The term refers to a performance which is presented to an audience, but which does not seek to present a conventional theatrical play or a formal linear narrative, and which eschews the portrayal of a set of fictitious characters in formal scripted interactions. Performance Art works typically included either action or spoken word as a communication between the artist and audience. Some, however, ignored expectations of the audience altogether.

At its most pure, performance art sought to create an ephemeral and authentic experience for performer and audience in an event that could not be repeated, captured or purchased. Due in part to this desire and its earnest pursuit, many performance works are challenging to represent in the context of a museum exhibition as records of them do not exist. As this selection of objects suggests, however, artists frequently relied on loose sketches or instructions, many of which remain. Also, some performances included the making of works of art during the event that can also be displayed. Perhaps most importantly, Performance Art of the 1960s and 1970s developed a strong partnership with photography and video, both of which provided excellent modes for capturing, commemorating and, in the case of video, reanimating these fleeting works of art

from the curatorial notes of
Ben Johnson
Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville
ReFocus: The Art of the 1970s

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