Unit 7 Outcome Ideas - Video Film/Performance

TATE: Performance Art 101: Rebellion, destruction, ritual and taboo

Kirstie Beaven

16 July 2012

You could argue that almost everything we’ve looked at in this series so far has been about rebellion. Performance in the twentieth century has questioned society’s accepted moral codes, rejected accepted mainstream culture, fuelled and reflected protest movements and challenged what art could and can be. But here, we’ll be looking at some of the most extreme manifestations of rebellion, through destruction, both physical and conceptual.

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Artists, writers, musicians and film-makers met in underground book shops such as Charing Cross Road’s Better Books, and shared their ideas and works in happening-style events, united by idealist ideas that art might sow the seeds of dissent and rebellion, and create a new disarmed world culture. Pioneering experimental film-maker Jeff Keen can also be seen as if not part of, an illustration of this ‘movement’. His collaged films, which took pop culture iconography from comics, car culture and B-movies and spliced them with experimental animations, often presented in multi-screen projections animated by live performers, were a visual cacophony of ‘violently disconnected and overlapping patterns’ twentieth-century culture in staccato jumpcuts and frenzied energy.

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