Liveness and Documentation: Examples

Performance Art Examples to talk about the relation between liveness and documentation:

  1. Chris Burden – Shoot 1971
    Picture from NYTimes
    More information about the artist from TheArtStory
    The artist is being shot into his arm/shoulder by a friend of his in an empty gallery, which is being filmed. There was no more people than the artist, the shooter and the cameraman.
  2. Yves Klein – a Leap Into the Void 1958Working Title/Artist: Leap into the VoidDepartment: PhotographsCulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: Working Date: 1960 photography by mma, Digital File DP109274.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 12_14_11Picture and more information from: metmuseum
  3. A photo of a man jumping from a 2nd floor window into an empty street. The picture is actually a collage of two pictures: 1- the man jumping from a window(but not a 2nd floor window with a catching net underneath the window) 2-a picture of an empty street. Therefore, the event which could be seen in the picture has actually never happened as it states in the picture. There was no audience as such, but the friends that helped him taking the pictures. Arguably, the friends did not see a performance, but rather  photoshoot for a performance which only took place in the picture.
  4. Vito Acconci – Photo Piece 1969 (also called as The Blink)1969Picture found here
    The artist walking on a street and taking pictures every time he blinked. It is extremely complicated to differentiate what is the documentation, what was the performance and who exactly was the audience. Therefore, the pictures showed the street, the people, buildings, details on the street and they were not a documentation of the artist taking pictures (as the artist with the camera is not documented) but rather the pictures were a result of the performance. Practically, there was an audience to see the performance taking place, as there were people in the street while the performance was happening. However, the people who were on the street at the time of the performance (and are also in the pictures) were not aware that they were the audience of a performance, as they most likely just saw a man walking around and taking pictures.

“However, both the theatrical and documentary styles of performance were both performed to the camera” (The Performativity of Performance Documentation, 2006:3)

More practitioners and theoretics of Performance Art:
Jon Erickson
Amelia Jones
Marcel Duchamp
Rose Selamy
Cindy Sherman
Matthew Barney
Roselee Goldberg
Robert Longo
Gina Pane

“From a traditional perspective, the documental and theatrical categories are mutually exclusive. If one insists upon the ontological relationship by demanding that to qualify as a performance an event must have an autonomous existence prior to it’s documentation, then the events underlying the works in the second category (theatrical) are not performances at all and the images are not documents, but something else, another kind of art work perhaps.” (The Performativity of Performance Documentation, 2006:3)



The Performativity of Performance Documentation. (2006). A Journal of Performance and Art, 28(3), pp.1-10. Or find the article here: auslanderthe-performativity-of-performance-documenation1


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s