Is Life Meaningless Without Performance Art?

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I had no idea what performance art was until I came across Marina Abramović ‘s Rhythm 0 in 2014. The visuals moved me so much that I remembered them vividly when I stumbled upon the video a few days back. And this time, I was driven to look up performances by other artists. A few videos later, I was convinced that this form of art is to life what milk is to coffee. In other words, it is absolutely indispensable. It gives meaning to life. Let me explain why. But first, watch what the artist herself has to say about Rhythm 0:

Just for a second, imagine if you were one of the people in the audience where Maria performed her social experiment. Can you imagine what you would do back then? Doesn’t the very thought of participating make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up?

Anyway, what do I mean when I say life is meaningless without performance art?

Well, society inspires art and art inspires society. And when it comes to performance art, this goes to a whole new level. Like in the case of Rhythm 0, the visuals are live and so in your face that they give us a collective conscience. Even when the artist does not invite the audience to participate, they compel us to think about the message they are trying to convey. Their message may or may not even make sense to us at times, but it will always force us to rethink our stance on a particular topic. This is something a piece of art, say a painting or a sculpture cannot always achieve. And this is exactly why performance art is one of the best mediums to push the boundaries, to go beyond convention, to see issues in a new light. Body positivity, love, sex, menstruation, death, gender, race, politics, futurism…the topics that are explored are endless.

Whether we like it or not, this art form makes us highly aware of the beauty, tragedy, and ludicrousness of our lives.

In fact, that is why artists turn to it. As beautifully explained in this article,”The foremost purpose has almost always been to challenge the conventions of traditional forms of visual art such as painting and sculpture. When these modes no longer seem to answer artists’ needs – when they seem too conservative, or too enmeshed in the traditional art world and too distant from ordinary people – artists have often turned to performance in order to find new audiences and test new ideas.”

However, like other forms of art, it can speak to you only if you have an open mind.

It can allow you to reassess and redefine your identity, and your relationship with people and the world around you. But if you engage with a closed mind, no matter how brilliant or grotesque, the performance will have little to no role in changing your life – or even your point of view.

What is your take on performance art? Let me know in the comments below. 

6 thoughts on “Is Life Meaningless Without Performance Art?”

  1. Art per se is such an important aspect of our life, just that we have disconnected our senses to respond and appreciate it’s nuanced aspects. We are mired in the mad mix of modern science that has literally encircled us and we are in way entrapped, perhaps deceptively. There is so much to art and our sensible engagement does make our life much more meaningful. We are scrambling for meaning in life. Art is such a wonderful form of expression. Yes as rightly stated visual art compared to the performing art has its inherent limitation, and a hungry artist remains famished or a soul searching lover of art remain a seeker till there is a heighten mode of engagement. And this happens through performance art…breaking the barriers of our deep-seated perception on art forms and playfully engaging with an art form that best suits us and stimulates our hibernated senses, the sensibilities that matter. Thanks for dwelling on a highly thought-provoking topic…

    This is the time of the year we look back and also time to look forward, so much to reflect and so much to look for. Wishing you a great year ahead with lots of success, health, and happiness.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2020 and a Happy New Year, Mahevash !!!

  2. Rhythm 0 has to be one of the most shocking pieces of performance art ever. I felt sick watching people turn into monsters when they knew they could not be apprehended for any of their crimes. The act proved that mankind is vile and uncivilised at its core. No wonder Adam and Eve were ousted from heaven. Most of us don’t belong there, we belong in hell, and that’s where we will be till the end of time.

    1. Rhythm 0 shocked me to the core too, Mariah.
      Hard to argue with that…wait, aren’t we already in hell? Okay, that got too dark…need to stop following the news again, methinks.

    1. Agreed. Especially with the way the world is right now. It’s amazing how we manage to mess things up every single year. I think it won’t be long before God completely gives up on us and hits us with the apocalypse :(

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