Since the advent of Post-modernism in the 1980’s, the visual arts have changed: in some ways for the better and in other respects for the worst. With the new century, the Digital Era brings us to the new world of total communication, where the problem of art-and-audience connection is still questionable. Here we have 10 contemporary performance artists who question issues of modern society and they come up not with kitchen debates but real acts.


Wafaa Bilal

Iraq born American artist Wafaa Bilal has become known for provocative interactive video installations. For a performance called…and Counting, he had his back “carved” with 5,000 red ink dots. The idea was to represent American casualties in the Iraq war. Wafaa tattooed 100,000 dots for “unidentified and forgotten Iraqi victims,” only visible in ultraviolet light. Besides the politics, many of Bilal’s projects over the past few years have addressed the dichotomy of the virtual vs. the real. He tries to transform the normally passive experience of viewing art into an active participation to change the relationship of the viewer to the artwork. The good example is Domestic Tension, where Bilal lived in a gallery space for a month while observers viewed him from a webcam and remotely fired a paintball gun at him.


Laurel Nakadate

Breakthrough artist Laurel Nakadate is most often showed up in the “video artist” category. Many people would say it’s crazy to dance and celebrate fake birthdays in homes of adult strangers. That is exactly what Laurel did. She recorded episodes with different plots, some of them apparently through sexual actions, but even 90% of them have been made without a single touch. It could be just a performance art with the camera on, but the level of disturbing and shock turns it into something else. As a matter of fact, the videos question people’s judgements about who should be friends with who. Laurel also explored the field of highly popular “life camera chats” with young girls. As for her latest effort, she joins cross-over artist James Franco, to perform an Ouija board seance for Tennessee Williams.


Jess Dobkin

Dobkin is an avant-garde artist from Toronto. Her explicit art is full of humor and her provocative performances are about “awes and sparkles”. Jess uses the body as a medium and takes plenty liberty with it. You can die laughing with the vagina clown car or fall in love with the nipple cabaret. For example, have you ever seen how two boobs become puppets? It may sound crazy, but such funny and strange performance talks on the complexities of breasts relationship in a silent movie. Thus, she questions and exposes dark sides of female body’s state in the modern society, but the goal of Dobkin’s performances can be summed up as a desire to unclench people’s inhibitions.


Constant Dullaart

Dullaart is a Dutch artist living and working in Berlin. His work is concerned with “visualizing internet vernaculars and software dialects.” Constant’s currently causing a stir with his latest web-based project, in which Dullaart and two assistants are creating thousands of fake Facebook profiles. In the project he used the names of Hessian soldiers-for-hire who fought in the U.S. civil war and flouted Facebook’s policy on “fake” profiles. No doubt, the intention is to stage mass “likes” of certain posts in protest against what Dullaart calls the “quantification of social capital.” Nevertheless, even his official page is a surprising performance itself.


Nate Hill

Next artist in the list is a performer from Brooklyn. Nate Hill’s art is never the same and every new performance is more complicated than the previous one. He gives public access to rogue taxidermy shows and helps to purge your house of your ex’s stuff as the Death Bear. After all, he allows you to pummel energy with your fists as the Punch Me Panda. Currently, he’s focusing on Internet-based performance that warps the notions of racism. There he made a series of fake product sites and posted some on social media, which represented discomforting Internet entities. All in all, the fact that Nate discourages public through internet shows that contemporary performance conquers digital space and it works in off-line just as sharp.


Man Bartlett

Following the previous artist, Man Barlett decided to serve a tether between our daily Internet communication and “the real world.” He is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in New York. At whole, his diverse practice includes sound, drawing, collage, video, performance and digital projects that often use online platforms as outlets for playful yet subversive social critique. In one of his performative action he has taken upon himself the vast task of regurgitating reality into a series of 140 character. So, he has spent 24 hours at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, asking people where they’re going and where they’ve been. As the result, he created a highly popular but initially unusual stream live-tweeting strangers’ answers. “I wanted to push the simultaneous engagement/participation between physical and virtual audiences to their limit, to see how well they could coexist,” said Bartlett.


Mireille Astore

Beirut-expat Mireille Astore is an artist, poet, and art scholar. Her most famous work called Tampa was dedicated to Afghan refugees and their attempts to seek asylum in Australia in 2001. “Tampa” is a performance of claustrophobia, endurance and an exploration of distance and time as experienced by refugees. It was a preforming in a 10:1 scaled version of their ship on the shores of Bondi in Sydney with Astroe inside. She ritualistically photographed her observers and uploaded the shots onto the Internet, while “waiting for her release.” She continues to “ask what it is to be human,” and expands the online element of her practice. It’s a great opportunity which we have today to use internet for greater accessibility by a bigger audience and Mireille knows it well.


Rachel Maclean

Glasgow-based Maclean’s surrealistic videos and paintings have been mounting in recent years. The biggest coup for Maclean’s practice came in May, when she represented Scotland in the 2017 Venice Biennale. For the Biennale, she expanded her growing oeuvre of dreamy, dystopian films. In each narrative, Maclean herself plays a shape-shifting, tragicomic protagonist whose experiences reflect the underbelly of internet culture and consumerism. The darkly humorous scenarios she creates critique the commercialization and homogenization of contemporary society at the hands of social media and its neverending filter bubble of news and curated personas.


Hanne Lippard

This artist makes sound works and poetry performances using her own writing and voice.Hanne Lippard‘s text-based works utilize daily speech and transform this into compositions of words. These words are characterized by syntactical repetition and lexical alienation. Thus, In her performances a voice becomes a mechanical instrument of narration that transforms accumulated language materials consisting of quotes, slogans and text messages into melodic abstractions. Talking about the content, In her work she usually talks on themes of modern working life and our relationship with technology. So, her vignettes, varying in length from around one minute to almost an hour, are thought-provoking and hypnotic.


Marcos Lutyens

As a performer Marcos Lutyens has layered and complex work. What is unique about Marcos, he embraced installation and, often, hypnosis. For example, one of his performances called ‘In touch’ was a part of the Centre Georges Pompidou Hors de Pistes series on May 2014. The performance was filmed and after all the movie showed how each trance participant moves across the esplanade. Each person is accompanied by a companion who holds a yellow umbrella above the trance subject. The performance involves the psychological pull that magnetic suggestion has on participants. Finally, this shift of consciousness may remind us that humans have the ability to sense space in terms of cardinal directions rather than egocentric coordinates.

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