Supplement to Bernedette Wegenstein reading

Body Performances from 1960’s Wounds to 1990’s Extensions (pg. 37-43)

“…I found that this thing called the camera-the video camera- and the screen, the monitor, are tools that can do that by their nature, because they give you the world back, but in[…] it’s not your own experience, but yet it is not mediated to another person, it’s this kind of mechanical art- it can give you new points of view and new insights in a simple and direct way”– Bill Viola pg. 37 


Futurism  was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. Although it was largely an Italian phenomenon, there were parallel movements in Russia, England, Belgium and elsewhere. The Futurists practiced in every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, urban design, theatre, film, fashion, textiles, literature, music, architecture, and even Futurist meals.  Cubism contributed to the formation of Italian Futurism’s artistic style.[2] Important Futurist works included Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurism, Boccioni’s sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, and Balla’s painting Abstract Speed + Sound (pictured). To some extent Futurism influenced the art movements Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism, and  Dada.

Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical left. (Legend has it that the term Da Da comes from the artists Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco saying “da da” often, which means “yes yes” in Croatian)

Hannah Höch (German: November 1, 1889 – May 31, 1978) was a German Dada artist. She is best known as an originators of photomontage, a type of collage in which the pasted items are actual photographs, or photographic reproductions pulled from widely produced media.

Hannah Hoch The Beautiful Girl (1920)

Hannah Höch. German, 1889-1978
Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser durch die letzte Weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands). 1919-1920
Photomontage and collage with watercolor, 44 7/8 x 35 7/16” (114 x 90 cm)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie

Carlo Carrà (February 11, 1881 – April 13, 1966) was an Italian painter and a leading figure of the Futurist movement that flourished in Italy during the beginning of the 20th century. In addition to his many paintings, In 1910 he signed, along with Umberto Boccioni, Luigi Russolo and Giacomo Balla the Manifesto of Futurist Painters, and began a phase of painting that became his most popular and influential.

Rhythms of Objects (Ritmi d’oggetti) (1911)  oil on canvas, 53 x 67 cm,

Carlo Carrà Manifestazione Interventista (1919) Tempera, pen, mica powder, and paper glued on cardboard, 39.1 x 30 cm

Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti (December 22, 1876 – December 2 1944) was an Italian poet, editor, art theorist, and credited founder of the Futurist movement. Marinetti is best known as the author of the first Futurist Manifesto, which was written and published in 1909. 

Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti , A Tumultuous Assembly. Numerical Sensibility (c. 1919), Letterpress, 10 1/2 x 13 in. 

Günter Brus (b. September 27 1938) is a controversial Austrian painter, performance artist, graphic artist, experimental filmmaker and writer. Brus was a co-founder in 1964 of Viennese Actionism. His aggressively presented actionism intentionally disregarded conventions and taboos with the intent of shocking the viewer. He was involved into the NO!Art movement. In 1966 he was with Gustav Metzger, Otto Muehl, Wolf Vostell, Yoko Ono and others a participant of the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS) in London.

Günter Brus, Aktion Selbstbemalung I, 1964


Deborah Warner (born May 12,1959) is an internationally acclaimed British director of theatre and opera known for her interpretations of the works of Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Büchner, and Henrik Ibsen.

Deborah Warner, The Angel Project (2003)


“The first feather — sleek, silvery, perfectly symmetrical — fluttered to my feet on the Manhattan-side platform of the Roosevelt Island Tramway. It was one of thousands of feathers I would happen upon on Tuesday during my experience of ”The Angel Project,” the director Deborah Warner’s mystical walking tour of New York and the theatrical centerpiece and opening event of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival.

Still ahead was that long, lush U-shaped pathway of white feathers in a celestial locker room; the pastel plumage of the small caged birds that had taken over a deserted office, high above Times Square; the feathers — sometimes black, sometimes white — on the angels themselves, who were often to be found sleeping on floors and desks.

Yet it seems unlikely that Ms. Warner was responsible for that first silver feather on the tramway platform while I was waiting to go to Roosevelt Island, where ”The Angel Project” begins. I looked up and saw the pigeon it had come from, and surely that pigeon was not in Lincoln Center’s employ….” – Ben Brantley in NY Times

Chuck Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American artist who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera.

Chuck Close, Self Portrait (2004-2005) oil on canvas (102″x86″)

Chuck Close Website: 

Gabi Trinkaus (Austrian, b. 1966) refers to herself as a “media thief.” She cuts up glossy magazines into small pieces, using them as source material for her collages of portraits and city landscapes which refer to the aesthetics of advertising and the mass media. Common poses, ideals of beauty, and commodity offerings are picked up and sampled in the large works. In these makeovers of faces and bodies, Trinkaus generates a superficially perfect form, enticing the beholder into a visual trap, consciously using media and advertising iconography as bait for the first glance. By borrowing from an aesthetic associated with the world of advertising and celebrated iconic faces, Trinkaus plays with the idea of seduction in her work. With the help of the collage technique, she creates a Frankenstein-like resurrection of the dissected advertising subject. Like layers of make up pealing away, the faces and bodies seem to dissolve and reveal the mask-like character of our daily life performances.

Gabi Trinkaus, She’s Born With It (2009), printed matter on canvas, 165 cm x 120 cm

Gabi Trinkhaus, er, (2009), printed matter and pins, 52,5 x 47,5 cm

Gabi Trinkhaus, J´adore (2005) printed matter on canvas 165 x 140 cm- book cover image

Gabi Trinkhaus, you can sleep (2006) printed matter on canvas, 2 panels, 250 x 220 cm ea.


Performances in the Era of New Media, or the End of Performance? (pg. 73-78)

Stelarc (b. 1946, Cyprus) is a performance artist whose works focus heavily on extending the capabilities of the human body. As such, most of his pieces are centered on his concept that “the human body is obsolete”.

Stelarc, Prosthetic Head (2003) link to more info: 

Stelarc, Ear on Arm (2003-2012)

“I have always been intrigued about engineering a soft prosthesis using my own skin, as a permanent modification of the body architecture. The assumption being that if the body was altered it might mean adjusting its awareness. Engineering an alternate anatomical architecture, one that also performs telematically. Certainly what becomes important now is not merely the body’s identity, but its connectivity- not its mobility or location, but its interface. In these projects and performances, a prosthesis is not seen as a sign of lack but rather as a symptom of excess. As technology proliferates and microminiaturizes it becomes biocompatible in both scale and substance and is incorporated as a component of the body. These prosthetic attachments and implants are not simply replacements for a part of the body that has been traumatized or has been amputated. These are prosthetic objects that augment the body’s architecture, engineering extended operational systems of bodies and bits of bodies, spatially separated but electronically connected. Having constructed a Third Hand (actuated by EMG signals) and a Virtual Arm (driven by sensor gloves), there was a desire to engineer an additional ear (that would be speak to the person who came close to it). The project over the last 12 years has unfolded in several ways. The EXTRA EAR was first imaged as an ear on the side of the head. THE 1/4 SCALE EAR involved growing small replicas of my ear using living cells. And recently, THE EAR ON ARM which began the surgical construction of a full-sized ear on my forearm, one that would transmit the sounds it hears.

The EAR ON ARM has required 2 surgeries thus far. An extra ear is presently being constructed on my forearm: A left ear on a left arm. An ear that not only hears but also transmits. A facial feature has been replicated, relocated and will now be rewired for alternate capabilities. Excess skin was created with an implanted skin expander in the forearm. By injecting saline solution into a subcutaneous port, the kidney shaped silicon implant stretched the skin, forming a pocket of excess skin that could be used in surgically constructing the ear. The body is a living system which isn’t easy to surgically sculpt. And recovery time is needed after the surgical procedures. There were several serious problems that occurred: a necrosis during the skin expansion process necessitated excising it and rotating the position of the ear around the arm. Ironically, this proved to be the original site that the 3D model and animation was visualized. Anyway, the inner forearm was anatomically a good site for the ear construction. The skin is thin and smooth there, and ergonomically locating it on the inner forearm minimizes the inadvertent knocking or scraping of the ear. A second surgery inserted a Medpor scaffold and the skin being suctioned over it. The Medpor implant is a porous, biocompatible polyethylene material, with pore sizes ranging from 100-250 micrometers. This can be shaped into several parts and sutured together to form the ear shape. Because it has a pore structure that is interconnected and omnidirectional it encourages fibrovascular ingrowth, becoming integrated with my arm at the inserted site, not allowing any shifting of the scaffold. We had originally considered mounting the ear scaffold onto a Medpor plate thinking that this might elevate it more, and position it more robustly to the arm. But this wasn’t the case and this solution was abandoned after being tested during surgery. Now, implanting a custom made silastic ridge along the helical rim would certainly increase helical definition but also would make room for later replacement of that ridge with cartilage grown from my own tissues. The helix would need to be lifted enabling the formation of a conch and make the ear a more 3D structure. The ear lobe will most likely be formed by creating a cutaneous ‘bag’ that will be filled with adipoderived stem cells and mature adipocytes. In other words the ear lobe would be partly grown using my own adult stem cells. Such a procedure is not legal in the USA, so it will be done in Europe. It’s still somewhat experimental with no guarantee that the stem cells will grow evenly and smoothly – but it does provide the opportunity of sculpturally growing more parts of the ear- and possibly resulting in a cauliflower ear! During the second procedure a miniature microphone was positioned inside the ear. At the end of the surgery, the inserted microphone was tested successfully. Even supported with a partial plaster cast, the arm fully wrapped and the surgeon speaking with his face mask on, the voice was clearly heard and wirelessly transmitted. Unfortunately it had to be removed. The infection caused by the implanted microphone several weeks later proved to serious and heroic efforts were undertaken to save the scaffold, after the microphone was surgically extracted. The final procedure will re-implant a miniature microphone to enable a wireless connection to the Internet, making the ear a remote listening device for people in other places. For example, someone in Venice could listen to what my ear is hearing in Melbourne. This project has been about replicating a bodily structure, relocating it and now re-wiring it for alternate functions. It manifests both a desire to deconstruct our evolutionary architecture and to integrate microminiaturized electronics inside the body. We have evolved soft internal organs to better operate and interact with the world. Now we can engineer additional and external organs to better function in the technological and media terrain we now inhabit. It also sees the body as an extended operational system- extruding its awareness and experience. Another alternate functionality, aside from this remote listening, is the idea of the ear as part of an extended and distributed Bluetooth system – where the receiver and speaker are positioned inside my mouth. If you telephone me on your mobile phone I could speak to you through my ear, but I would hear your voice ‘inside’ my head. If I keep my mouth closed only I will be able to hear your voice. If someone is close to me and I open my mouth, that person will hear the voice of the other coming from this body, as an acoustical presence of another body from somewhere else. This additional and enabled EAR ON ARM effectively becomes an Internet organ for the body. The body now performs beyond the boundaries of its skin and beyond the local space that it occupies. It can project its physical presence elsewhere. So the notion of single agency is undermined, or at least made more problematic. The body becomes a nexus or a node of collaborating agents that are not simply separated or excluded because of the boundary of our skin, or of having to be in proximity. So we can experience remote bodies, and we can have these remote bodies invading, inhabiting and emanating from the architecture of our bodies, expressed by the movements and sounds prompted by remote agents. What is being generated and experienced is not the biological other – but an excessive technological other, a third other. A remote and phantom presence manifested by a locally situated body. And with the increasing proliferation of haptic devices on the Internet it will be possible to generate more potent phantom presences. Not only is there FRACTAL FLESH (bodies and bits of bodies, spatially separated but electronically connected, generating similar patterns of recurring activity at different scales); there is now PHANTOM FLESH(Phantom not as in phantasm, but as in phantom limb. Haptic technologies generating tactile and force-feedback that results in a more potent presence of remote bodies). The biological body is not well organ-ized. The body needs to be Internet enabled in more intimate ways. THE EAR ON ARM project suggests an alternate anatomical architecture – the engineering of a new organ for the body: an available, accessible and mobile organ for other bodies in other places, enabling people to locate and listen in to another body elsewhere.”- sourced from 

2010 New Territories Podcast: Stelarc on Excess and Indifference; The Cadaver, The Comotose and The Chimera

VALIE EXPORT (born May 17, 1940)  is an Austrian artist. Her artistic work includes video installations, body performances, expanded cinema, computer animations, photography, sculptures and publications covering contemporary arts.Valie Export, Tap and Touch Cinema, 1968-1972

Vito Hannibal Acconci (January 24, 1940 – April 27, 2017) was an American designer, landscape architect, performance and installation artist.

Vito Acconci, Trademarks (1970).

Sitting in front of a camera, Acconci performs a series of contorted poses and bites into his arms, legs and shoulders, resulting in impressions of his teeth left on his skin. He then covers these marks with printers ink and used them to stamp various surfaces.

Gina Pane (b.May 24, 1939 – d.March 6, 1990) was a French artist of Italian origins. She was a member of the 1970s Body Art movement in France, called “Art corporel”.

Gina Pane Discours Mou Et Mat (1975) 
Pane, dressed in white and wearing sun glasses, performs various actions using objects laid out in the room. A poem is being read out, the subject of which is the mother figure and birth. She smashes her reflection in a mirror to pieces. The word ‘Aliention’ which is written across her mirror image is destroyed. Pane ends the performance by lying down beside the naked female figure, the mother. Restful violin music surrounds them, she looks upwards through binoculars. The camera does not play an active role in this work, but only serves to register Pane’s actions. The performance is attended by an audience, which now and then is briefly filmed by the camera.

Video documentation excerpt:

Vito Acconci

Vito Acconci, Following Piece, performed in New York City between October 3 and 25, 1969.

Conceived by performance and conceptual artist Vito Acconci, Following Piece was an activity that took place everyday on the streets of New York, between October 3rd and 25th, 1969. It was part of other performance and conceptual events sponsored by the Architectural League of New York that occurred during those three weeks. The terms of the exhibition “Street Works IV” were to do a piece, sometime during the month, that used a street in New York City. So Acconci decided to follow people around the streets and document his following of them. But why would he do this? Why would Acconci follow random people around New York?

Acconci’s work is typical of performance and conceptual art made during this period in the way that he uses his body as the object of his art in order to explore some specific idea. In essence,Following Piece was concerned with the language of our bodies, not so much in a private manner, but in a deeply public manner. By selecting a passer-by at random until they entered a private space, Acconci submitted his own movements to the movements of others, showing how our bodies are themselves always subject to external forces that we may or may not be able to control. In his notes that the artist kept during the performance, Acconci wrote:

Following Piece, potentially, could use all the time allotted and all the space available: I might be following people, all day long, everyday, through all the streets in New York City. In actuality, following episodes ranged from two or three minutes when someone got into a car and I couldn’t grab a taxi, I couldn’t follow – to seven or eight hours – when a person went to a restaurant, a movie.

In terms of the art work, rather than being just another object that we look at in the gallery, Following Piece was part of the revolution that took place in the art world in the late 1960s that tried to bring art out of the gallery and into the street in order to explore real issues such as space, time, and the human body. Many artists, such as Acconci, used their bodies as their chosen medium. Look at some of Acconci’s notes of the period which he wrote before, during and after the event:

•  I need a scheme (follow the scheme, follow a person)

•  I add myself to another person (I give up control/I don’t have to control myself)

•  Subjective relationship; subjunctive relationship

•  A way to get around. (A way to get myself out of the house.) Get into the middle of things.

•  Out of space. Out of time. (My time and space are taken up, out of myself, into a larger system).

All of these ideas were influenced by Acconci’s readings. As many other artists of the period, Acconci wanted to get away from specific art problems and engage with social problems. Acconci read books such as Edward Hall’s The Hidden Dimension (1969), Erving Goffmann’s The Presentation of the Self in Every Day Life (1959), and Kurt Lewin’s In Principles of Topological Psychological (1936/1966). All of these books explored the ways in which the individual and the social are interlinked in terms of complex codes that structure the way we act and live everyday.

With regard to the influence on these texts on Following Piece, Acconci’s use of diagrams specifically refers to Lewin’s notion of “field theory”: that is, a model that sought to explain human behaviour in terms of relations and in relation to its environment and surroundings. Lewin placed behaviour in a “field” in order to examine it in a theoretical manner. The diagrams drawn by Acconci are an imaginative engagement with this idea of human relations as engaging in a specific field or space. So by following someone around New York, Acconci could perhaps experience what it was like to relinquish self control to others and also explore the intersecting systems that grouped different people together in one field. As we can see from the diagrams, Acconci’s intentions were not subjective but much more systematic—they constituted an exploration of the private and public fields that occur in every social space.Vito Acconci, Following Piece, Diagram 1969 ©Vito Acconci, shown courtesy of Vito Acconci

Ironically, for all the effort to get out of the gallery, much of Acconci’s documentation of Following Piece, for example, the texts, photographs (which were taken after the event!), and diagrams, now constitutes a work of art in its own right. MOMA owns several of the photographs of Following Piece and other “versions” of this work are also in existence. So, even though Acconci’s Following Piece was a performance that occurred in a very specific period (3rd to 25th October, 1969), the reproduction and circulation of the work continues. This fact not only teaches us important things about the nature of performance art and its relationship to the art world, but also how the context of the art work is also never exactly fixed and each time it is presented something new occurs with the work itself.

Text by Jp McMahon published on



Acconci Studios: