The artist as director

Many artists continue to use their own bodies as material in performances, while others produce live work by proxy – creating puppets, mannequins or ‘stand-ins’ to represent the artist or another character, performing repeatedly and on command. Other artists provide written instructions for the viewer to act out – from simple actions to complex and extended instructions, which might require following a set route, or to perform in a specified way.

Material evidence from live events is increasingly important, as a record of the event and as a way of promoting the work of the performance artist. However, with a growing emphasis on the quality of these records, artists now spend a great deal of time creating highly accomplished films of their actions.

For some the performance is no longer the primary goal. Instead the live action is conceived and staged in order to make a film. That film, whether broadcast on television or not, can reach a much wider audience: thousands of people could see a work which perhaps only a handful might have witnessed during the original live event. For some artists this work has led to a career directing pop videos, and for a few, directing big-budget films.

Full list of works in this room

Ken Feingold
Self Portrait as the Center of the Universe 1998–2001

Isaac Julian
Untitled (Three) 1999
Three 1996-9

Robert Longo
Untitled 1981
Untitled 1981
Johnny Mnemonic 1995

Yoko Ono
Imagine Peace Map Room 2003

Dennis Oppenheim
Theme for a Major Hit 1974

Tony Oursler
Autochthonous AAAAHHHH 1995

Ene-Liis Semper
Oasis 1999