Performance Artist, or Just Another Weirdo?

Defining performance art, and attempting to fathom the deep, obscure meaning behind a few bizarre performance art pieces.

Wikipedia’s definition of performance art is: “Performance art can be any situation that involves four basic elements: time, space, the performer’s body, and a relationship between performer and audience.”
Okay, so according to Wiki; anyone, anywhere, in a body, interacting with other people is performance art. Hey, good for us! We’re all performance artists!

But if this is such a common art form, why has it caused such a stir? Is it the artistic nature of the act that attracts people to stop and watch a performance artist, or the same morbid fascination that people feel when they slow down when driving past the site of an accident?


Here we have a picture of a performance art piece in progress. It must be going well, as this performer has quite a crowd watching him. But have they stopped to admire the creative nature of the project, or do they pity the naked guy because it’s cold?

Let’s try to understand the piece, us viewers who haven’t been told what the objective of the work is. We have a naked guy, on a cold rainy day, sitting in a public place, sealed in a plastic bubble. But what does it mean?
  1. He’s trying to show the world how cruel and heartless people are that they would stand and watch a naked man shivering without doing anything to help him. 
  2. He’s re-enacting his experience in the womb, and expressing that he has a chilly relationship with his mother. 
  3. He ran out of his meds. 

Paula Kerstens

Being a performance artist must be pretty cool. They get to wear black and walk around with plastic bags over their heads.

Shall we embark upon the quest of meaning?
  1. She’s the modern embodiment of the Mona Lisa, with strict views on littering. How original. 
  2. The girl in the photo is auditioning for a new movie, “Dude, where’s my bag?” 
  3. Her psychiatrist wasn’t available for her session on the day this photo was taken. 

Quinn Dukes

This performance seems pretty bizarre, but it’s quite simple, actually. The gigantic tomato is giving birth to woman with a fluffy head. See? It’s easy to understand art if you don’t look below the surface. Or, wait, maybe the normal sized tomato is giving birth to a tiny half-human half-animal creature.

Oh, I don’t know anymore… Could it mean that;
The artist has a sloshing fetish (Using food items for sexual gratification)
If we’re not careful with genetically modified food, one day tomatoes will start procreating and siring fully dressed, mature adult human beings.
This woman confused the large hand-sewn tomato with her strait-jacket.

Ye Fu

Ye Fu and another artist lived in a glass house for a month as part of a performance art piece. They exposed their daily home lives to the world, yet separated themselves from the outside world.

Were they trying to:
  1. Prove that we are all in fact transparent as human beings, and have nothing to hide? 
  2. Show that everyone has barriers (The glass walls), no matter how much of ourselves we reveal? 
  3. Make money by doing nothing but mooch around the house all day. 

Striptease to Save the Trees

Yes, there are some performance art works that actually have a point. Even for us non-believers, the meaning of this act is clear. The artist intends to distract the driver of the truck with her keen fashion sense and by waving her megaphone at him, all done in an attempt to save the trees.

This act certainly contains the four elements of Performance art; time, space, the performer’s body and a relationship between the performer and the audience. And to flesh out the fullness of the artwork, this artist has solicited a reaction from her target audience – the driver has stopped the truck.

Read More on Art-Sci:

 5 Funny Art Installations