Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

Panorama view of exhibition in Jedlitschka Gallery, Zurich.

04 December 2016

Dr Great Art Podcast Episode 4: "The 'Problem' with Performance and Video Art"



The 4th and newest Dr Great Art short art history podcast! "The 'Problem' with Performance and Video Art." Are performance and video art often really so bad? http://drgreatart.libsyn.com/episode-4-the-problem-with-performance-and-video-art

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Here is the script (NOT a transcript, as I change lements while recording).


Dr Great Art Podcast Four
"The Problem of Performance and Video Art"

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the fourth "Dr (Great) Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one. 

Because the last podcast was bit longer than I intended,
today we have a very short question concerning two so-called "newer media" artforms.
I have a question I posed to myself, and students new to art often ask me, and I THINK an answer of sorts. This is not art or world-shaking, but a small insight I believe anyway. let's see what you think.
The question: What is the problem with Performance Art and Video Art.
And you know what I mean by these, not dance or theatre or video clips or music videos, but those creative artworks made by fine artists, usually for a museum or Kunsthalle or gallery, where either the artist and his/her live presence is the main component of the piece (Performance Art), or second, TV-Video filmed productions made to exist, often be only really discernable, in a museum or Kunsthalle or art fair, etc. (Video Art).

As most of us know, and will joke about with other artists, but hate to admit, most seem to be quite horrible. AND to top that off, you are forced to sit through them, as they are temporal, and will not allow quick, repeated or lengthy viewings as art objects do.
I believe it is the problem of the AVERAGE, the largest portion of these works in relation to the average art object. Most Paintings, for example are mediocre to OK. With some great work and some worthless work.

Most Performance and Video works, on the other hand, are bad. Let's admit it. If many-a-work were a painting, it would never have achieved the level of discussion and acceptance it has. Its caché is a relic of the addiction to newness of Late Modernism.

And YET --- there are great Performance pieces: examples include anything by Karen Finley, the Dancing Sculpture by Gilbert and George, Eurasia or How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (German: ''wie man dem toten Hasen die Bilder erklärt'') by Joseph Beuys. And more.
And there are wonderful video artworks, often of the installation variety, such as Heaven and Hell by Bill Viola, any projected video loop by Hubbard and Birchler, The Clock by Christian Marclay. And more.

It is NOT that we viewers do not "get" the works, it is often that we indeed DO get the works. And they are not much.
So --- the average, the majority of Performances and Videos you will run into are bad, but there are many, many amazingly great ones. The majority of paintings and drawings you will run into are middling, good enough. But there are real stinkers and many great ones. Both perceptions thus create illusions, due to our human tendency to fall for the fallacy of the "law of averages."

The methods whereby we are accustomed to viewing such works comes into the mix as well. You can rush in and out of painting, sculpture, even most installation exhibitions, if you are not quickly intrigued. And/or go back repeatedly and later, with ever lengthening viewings, to become intrigued. Not so with the "forced" specific length of viewing in most temporal works.
In short, I feel this is one of the least discussed virtues of object art (which has been so criticized as being merely elitist collectables), it allows a personal democracy of viewing. Yet, it also points out that Performance and Video are less democratically charged than theoreticians assert, making it necessary to give many the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of your time.
Look for the great ones.

Thanks for listening. That was "Dr (Great) Art" podcast number 4. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.
I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.
You can find or contact me at
www.drgreatart.com/ (spell)
book me at www.mirjamhadorn.com (spell)
or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, under drgreatart