Today it can be difficult to subscribe to a specific style or aesthetic as taste and trend oscillate somewhat uncontrollably into new realms of what is truly and organically culturally reflective. Performance art seems to be the solution to this matter of artistically responding to the zeitgeist. In our current state of mass Internet inclusion of opinion and involvement, the means of audience engagement creates a platform for people to have their say or to instantaneously record their response. In the past week, two examples of this reflection arose both playing to the tune of what the doyenne of performance, Marina Abramovic, named ‘ the immaterial art form’: music. The environments were wholly different as were the overall cause and effect but their comparison or rather juxtaposition demonstrates how this art form is to some extent usurping the ingrained notion of the gallery space. On the roof of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, pianist Mark Knoop set about recreating the 1962 piece by Fluxus artist Philip Corner. A nod to the Fluxus movement in 2013 is uncannily appropriate as the slash/slash generation of everything doers and re-appropriative crossover culture reigns heavy. After a prolonged session of back-to-back recital of essentially unrelated pieces of music by varied composers, the artist embarked upon the full destruction of the organ. Others joined and the performance starts for real.
This is an act of unnecessary violence displaying hedonism and wastefulness and little respect for an instrument whose value and history surpass the pseudo-anarchism of this enactment. But, people like to be involved and now everyone can share their reaction, albeit pejoratively. (Hip)Hop over the Atlantic to the Pace Gallery in Manhattan and a quite different display was going down. A celebration of popular culture and fan frenzy led to a room of varied creatives from across the board in audience with Jay-Z who performed Picasso Baby on loop. One by one, big names from various industries such as Fab5 Freddy, Marilyn Minter, Wangechi Mutu and the Picasso baby herself, Diana Widmaier Picasso, came up and received their personal serenade in the collective environment. Marina Abramovic’s enthusiasm for the project is visibly astounding and the final work exudes the best of contemporary creative culture. So, involvement is the key here as it democratises the art of today and also leaves a big empty space for everyone. Whether we just want to object, be appalled or horrified or just bask in the glory of the gloss of celebrity culture, performance art is perhaps the most limitless medium these days and certainly the most culturally symptomatic of today.