2017 Visiting Assistant Professor Proposal to

Gustavus Adolphus College


Providing an art history survey of performance art, using RoseLee Goldberg’s Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present as a primary text, this fall would give much needed context to a medium that is not well understood. The following semester I would teach a studio class on performance art.

My proposed fall art history survey would dive deeper than the 362 Contemporary Art Seminar, into the underpinnings that have lent unmatched agency and amplified modes of discourse to this provocative medium. I presume I cannot ask that the fall survey be a prerequisite for the studio in the spring, however interested students would gain significant insight into the performance art studio practice. With that said, I would make the studio class in the spring very accessible to non-majors and for those who missed out the previous semester.

Fall Survey: RoseLee Goldberg’s book Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present explains how the outlandish behavior of outcasts defiant of society’s social norms and political dissidents eager to voice their contempt for the state in early twentieth century Europe laid the groundwork for unconventional expression later embodied by the likes of Black Mountain College.

The censorship of the German government in the early twentieth century inadvertently launched the career of Frank Wedekind, one of the forerunners to Dada and the Cabaret Voltaire, "These irreverent performances, bordering on the obscene, endeared Wedekind to the artistic community of Munich, while the censorship trials which inevitably followed guaranteed him prominence in the city" (Goldberg 51). Wedekind fit the performance artist modus operandi; he was an outsider who paid no mind to conventional society, "Wedekind's performances revelled in the license given the artist to be a mad outsider, exempt from society's normal behaviour" (Goldberg 52).

A concise summary of this extensive history will provide a much needed context to a medium with a wide range of possibilities.

Spring Studio: 4 major assignments: 1) duration 2) body, 3) space activation and 4) thematically blank on purpose. A myriad of smaller workshops in the studio and around campus will inspire students and attune them to the visual language performance artist must deal with in real time.