SPA History / 2014 / Mouvement III / Artists

The City Performed : the artists

Vito Acconci
The American architect and conceptual artist Vito Acconci (b. 1940) was initially a poet. He started to work as a performance artist in 1969. Because many of his performances left no trace, he documented them in the form of short descriptions and black-and-white photographs.
In Following Piece (1969), he spent 23 days hot on the heels of people encountered at random on the street. By following people on the basis of chance encounters until they disappeared into some private space, the artist briefly connected unknown bodies to his own.
Francis Alÿs
The Belgian artist F.  Alÿs (b. 1959) lives in Mexico City. He explores physical and social relationships rather than making things, and because his city is always in flux, it is this dynamism that he seeks to bring into his art.
In Looking Up (Plaza de Santo Domingo, México D.F., Agosto 18, 2001) (2001) Alÿs seeks to carry out a performance from which movement emerges without effort. Entrusting himself to the power of suggestion, Alÿs stands on a square watching the sky until a crowd forms around him.
Ulla von Brandenburg
This German artist (b. 1974) is based in Paris. Although she is better known for her interest in theatrical design and tableaux vivants, von Brandenburg's Around (2005) is a contemporary classic of quotidian choreography. This looped 16 mm film portrays a group of individuals standing in a circle in the middle of an empty street with their backs to the camera. As the camera circumnavigates them, the performers turn so that although the camera moves right around them, their faces are hidden from the viewer.
Pablo Bronstein
The Argentinian, London-based artist Pablo Bronstein (b. 1977) works primarily with concepts reflecting postmodernism in conjunction with the post-revolutionary architecture of 19th century.
The Piazza (2007) consists of two strips of tape which transect the floor, crossing at the center of the room in a gesture that represents the simplest way of marking a place without using an object. In architectural drawing, this X stands for a void. Bronstein uses it to turn the exhibition space into a life-sized architectural model.
Stanley Brouwn
The Dutch and Surinam born artist Stanley Brouwn (b. 1935) has been making works that revolve around human locomotion and units and modes of measurement for some five decades.
Although Brouwn is known for the stringent precision with which he records the basic human activity of walking, a certain levity and imprecision are in play in the series This Way Brouwn (1961-63), which consists of a collection of maps drawn by people approached for directions in Amsterdam. Taking these drawings and presenting them as works as art turned them into testaments to improvised social encounters.
Paulo Bruscky
The artist Paulo Bruscky (b. 1949) lives in the city of Recife in Brazil. He is an exponent of mail art, and with close ties to Fluxus and Gutai.
He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the early 1980s, thanks to which he took a research trip to New York and Amsterdam. The film Amsterdam Erotica (1982/2014) is a study of what he saw as the omnipresent, phallic character of this city. A metal post between Bruscky's legs is immortalized in photographic form and so transformed into a performance of masculinity.

Martin Creed
The London-based artist and musician Martin Creed (b. 1968) has made an international name for himself with interventions which are at once ordinary and strangely spectacular.
Creed's film Work No. 1701 (2013) shows a dozen people crossing an intersection in New York. They all seem to have some disability, but have deliberately dispensed with means of assistance such as crutches. Their progress is steady and distinct, as though their movements were choreographed.
Felipe Ehrenberg
In line with his famous eclecticism, the Sao Paulo-based, Mexican artist Felipe Ehrenberg (b. 1943), has worked in a variety of artistic modes.
Carried out during a period of self-exile in London, A STROLL IN JULY, or ONE THURSDAY AFTERNOON, or HALF A DAY IN LONDON, or (THE) AFTERNOON. Topology of a Sculpture (1970) documented a walk made by the artist one London afternoon. True to his connections with mail art and Fluxus, Ehrenberg stopped at five different points in order mail postcards and so document the event.
The Austrian artist VALIE EXPORT (b. 1940) raises explicit questions about structures and conventions, ranging from cinema, language, myths of nature and the natural, to how cities are built, the gendered nature of architecture and its relation to the female body. Körperkonfigurationen (1976 -2001) is a series of fifty photographs which document the artist as she twists, bends, and adapts her body to the structure of the city and landscape like so many living sculptures.
Dara Friedman
The work of the Los Angeles-based artist Dara Friedman (b. 1968) revolves around experimental, non-narrative techniques in film.
In Dancer (2011) she cleverly uses Miami as both an urban body and a stage, paying constant attention to the relationship between individuals and the public realm. After an elaborate casting process she found dancers with whom she could work on an 8-week shoot which took place all across city.
Gelitin is a Vienna-based collective composed of four artists: Tobias Urban (b. 1971), Wolfgang Gantner (b. 1968), Florian Reiter (b. 1970), and Ali Janka (b. 1970). For Gelitin, imagination is the measure of all things – and ultimately creates reality.
Falling is a wonderful sensation – like floating, according to Gelitin. Nella Nutella (2001) was photographed in April 2001 over the course of four days. It is a slapstick kind of falling, a question of overcoming one's own fears, and ultimately a matter of sabotaging normalized tourism. Gelitin seeks to motivate people to live out their hidden longings.

Tomislav Gotovac
Filmmaker and performance artist T. Gotovac (b. 1937) began to take an interest in the activities that punctuate everyday life while learning about photography in the 1960s.
Socially and politically committed, he has used his own body and personality in most of his works. Striking (1971) was his first performance in public space, and involved him running naked through the streets of Belgrade. Freeing himself of all physical and sartorial constraints, the artist set out to disturb social customs and the public sphere.

Alberto Greco
Alberto Greco (1931 – 1965) started out as an abstract painter, but eventually embraced a much more radical and pedestrian approach to art.
After installing himself in Paris in 1961, he theorized and pursued what he called an art of the "Vivo Dito" (living finger), going so far as to write in his Vivo Dito manifesto: "The artist will no longer use the painting to teach people to see, but the finger." He then carried out and documented a number of performances in which he singled out passersby by circling them with chalk and signing the circles to turn them into momentary living sculptures.
Anna Halprin
The American dancer, choreographer and teacher Anna Halprin (b. 1920) is one of the main transitional figures between modern and postmodern dance.
City Dance (1976/1977), an improvisational work which used the city of San Francisco as its stage, is an example of her attempt to expand the understanding of the spaces in which dance traditionally takes place.
Maria Hassabi
The Greek choreographer Hassabi has an abiding interest in slowness, and The Ladies (2011/2012) is a perfect example of her engagement. It portrays three pairs of women, dressed in black and with black sunglasses and bright red lipstick, walking side by side at a preternaturally slow pace. In the hustle and bustle of New York, such a basic refusal to go with the flow gives the women's languid pace the potential to be highly antagonistic and disruptive.
Noritoshi Hirakawa
The New York-based artist and film director N. Hirakawa (b. 1960) works in various media. The content of his photographs is commonly described as intimate and erotic.
At a bedroom in the middle of the night (1993) is a photographic series which shows clothed Japanese couples having sex in public places in Tokyo. In each case, the woman sits discreetly on the man's lap, so there is no direct evidence of any sexual act, and no one knows what is happening aside from the artist and the couple themselves.
Sanja Iveković
As a feminist artist, Sania Iveković (b. 1949) explores the place and image of women in communist societies such as the former Yugoslavia. This Croatian artist, stages public performances and makes collages, sculptures and installations.
Triangle (1979) is an installation composed of four photographs and a descriptive account of a performance staged during a parade by former President Tito. Out on her balcony with a book in her hand, the artist pretended to masturbate, fully aware that she was being observed. A police officer, stationed on a nearby roof, then intervened, asking her to go back inside her apartment.
Christian Jankowski
The Berlin-based artist (b. 1968) made a name for himself with works which take a close and satirical look at our media-saturated society.
His work Heavy Weight History (2013) is an installation consisting of seven black-and-white, large-format photographs, a 30-minute film and a small auditorium. The film and photographs show a group of Polish weightlifters drenched in sweat as they try to lift up public monuments in Warsaw.
Jiří Kovanda
Prague-based artist Jiří Kovanda (b. 1953) is best known for his surreptitious actions in Prague in the second half of the 1970s. Of a secretly performative nature, these actions were conceived as acts of micro-resistance to the oppressive foreclosure of public space during Soviet occupation. They included standing on a public street with outstretched arms in Untitled (1976), and Theatre, (1976) in which the artist follows a script "to the letter," in his words.

Liz Magic Laser
Although she is better known for her engagement with theatricality, the practice of the New York-based artist Liz Magic Laser is also deeply embedded in the choreographic. One of her earlier pieces, Distressed (2009), is a perfect example. The work consists of a group of five dancers emerging from a Diesel jeans store and literally distressing – breaking-in – their jeans in a series of highly systematic and choreographed gestures. In the course of this process of distressing their jeans, singly, in pairs, and in groups, their bodies take on a distinctly object-like, even sculptural quality.
Klara Lidén
The Swedish artist Klara Lidén (b. 1979) is known for her direct but simple transgressions of codified behavior, especially in public space.
Her video Paralyzed (2003) is a classic of the genre ("inappropriate" behavior in public space). The video begins with Lidén seated in a relatively empty subway car, but she soon gets up and begins to indulge in the most outrageous antics, such as jumping around the car, climbing on seats and pole-dancing. Clearly ironic, the title refers to the kind of behavior that is expected when riding the subway.
Marko Lulić
The Austrian artist Marko Lulić (b. 1972) reflects nationalist ideologies and historical avant-garde movements in his work. Lulić also examines the traditional concept of sculpture in his work.
In the video and associated photographic work, Reactivation (Circulation in Space) (2002/2004), he uses a sculpture by Vojin Bakic dating from 1971, assembled from metal rings, as gymnastic equipment. He explores everything that “circulation in space“ could literally be or mean.
Babatte Mangolte / Trisha Brown
The Franco-American filmmaker Babette Mangolte (b. 1941) began working with the American dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown (b. 1936) in 1970.
With Roof Piece (1971-1973) we are dealing with a special form of wordless communication over long lines of sight – from one rooftop to another, from one performer to the next. At such distances, improvised movements lose their precision and appear to take on a life of their own. What was initially thrown into the chain of communication bears little relation to what remains in the end.
Rachel Mason
Rachel Mason (b. 1980) is an American musician and artist who uses film, installation, and performance to reflect on politics and the cult of the personality.
As a 21-year old art student, Mason was thrown out of UCLA , when she boldly scaled the exterior of an eight-floor building on the UCLA campus without using any safety equipment. In Terrestrial Being (2001) she climbs not down, but up, and without any help or safety gear. As sure-footed as a sleepwalker, she makes it to the top -  and is immediately arrested by the university's security guards.
Dave McKenzie
The Jamaican artist Dave McKenzie (b. 1977) works with photography, video and performance. He investigates forms of self-representation in a conceptual mode, appropriating identities and in the process neutralizing established clichés fueled by appearance, age and origin.
The camera in Kevin and Me (2000) focuses on the artist's legs and feet on a wooden pedestrian bridge. After limping at the start, he walks sure-footedly, then exchanges his sneakers for a pair of tap dancing shoes, and embarks on a sequence of skilfully executed steps.
Dieter Meier
A versatile and talented artist, Dieter Meier (b. 1945) comes from Zurich and is a leading Swiss conceptual artist.
Meier became involved in the live arts well before the 1970s. GEHEN (1970) is typical of his body of work. Drawing a straight line 20 meters long across the vast Bellevueplatz in Zurich, Meier walked back and forth along it for an hour, inviting people to join him, and so to reflect on his work.

José Pérez Ocaña, better known simply as Ocaña (1947 – 1983) was a painter and performance artist who developed a certain notoriety for his promenades along Barcelona's Las Ramblas in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Donning a floral dress, high heels and make up, he would ostentatiously parade up and down Las Ramblas, occasionally and provocatively lifting up his skirt to reveal his unsuspected manliness.

Neša Paripović
The Belgrade-based artist Neša Paripović (b. 1942) was a leading figure in the Serbian conceptual art scene of the 1970s.
In what is his most well-known work, the 25 minute video N.P. 1977 (1977), a well-dressed Paripović can be seen walking boldly in a straight line through Belgrade, quite regardless of the walls, divisions and other obstacles he meets. A comment on the artist's supposed ability to exercise rights denied to others.
Ewa Partum
Ewa Partum (b. 1945) was the first artist to stage a documented public performance in Poland. A pioneer of feminist, concrete poetry, filmmaking, performance, and conceptual art.
She produced Self-Identification (1980) at Warsaw's Mala Gallery, in which she read a manifesto while wearing absolutely nothing. During the exhibition, she left the gallery naked and went into the city, encountering and witnessing events such as a marriage. The performance was accompanied by a controversial series of photo-collages superimposing her naked figure onto Warsaw city scenes.
Alexandra Pirici
The practice of the Romanian choreographer and artist Alexandra Pirici (b. 1982) has been known to critically engage public space and sculpture.
If You Don’t Want Us, We Want You (2011) is a direct response to budget cuts by the Romanian ministry of culture to the performing arts, which nevertheless directed funds to the beautification of the city. Deprived of the spaces in which to perform, Pirici and a troupe of Romanian performers took to the streets and imitated the forms of the public statues and monuments.
Miervaldis Polis
The Latvian artist Miervaldis Polis (b. 1948) originally studied painting and works to this day as a painter from in Riga. In the 1980s, however, he also carried out a series of performances, the most public and famous of which was Bronze Man (1987). Donning a bronze outfit and painted from head to toe in bronze paint, Polis took a tour of Riga as a living statue. Although the artist himself said that this singular promenade was meant to reflect upon the "tendency of men to glorify and be glorified," his controversial performance is wide open to interpretation.
Kim Sooja
With A Needle Woman (2009), the South Korean artist Kim Sooja (b. 1957), who is based in New York, made a contemporary classic dealing with the body in urban space.
The single channel version of A Needle Woman (2009) featured in Le Mouvement was filmed in Paris. The work portrays the artist from behind in a silent, 25 minute loop, as a dense current of pedestrians flows around her, variously fascinated and perplexed by the artist's rigid, unyielding occupation of urban space.
Mladen Stilinović
The Zagreb-based conceptual artist Mladen Stilinović (b. 1947) examines the inescapable absurdity of the artist's existence under socialism, and, after 1989, in the context of a rapidly expanding capitalism.
With its observations of movement in public space and its attention to specific phenomena, Bag-People (2001) demonstrates Stilinović's conceptual interest in supposedly commonplace situations. The series of photographs shows us people on their way to work carrying plastic bags which contain their lunch and are also elements of a global cycle of consumption.

Beat Streuli
Since the late 1980s the Swiss artist Beat Streuli (b. 1957), has consistently expanded his portfolio with pictures taken in the streets of big cities. Making few geographical references, his images generate a sense of fictitious-transnational space which acquires an identity only through the people who populate it.
Lying between documentation and fiction, Streuli's photographs make us aware of the performative nature of movement in public space. Although these are photographic works, they are also related to both performance and sculpture.
Rirkrit Tiravanija
The Thai artist Tiravanija (b. 1961) came to attention in the early 1990s with his creations of real encounters both within and beyond the institutions of art. For his famous work Untitled (1992), he built a makeshift kitchen in a gallery and served the visitors with Thai curry every day.
In Untitled (Remember JK, Universal Futurological Question Mark U.F.O.) (2012),
Tiravanija brings his work into an urban context, with more than a hundred people coming together in the same fashion in the Zócalo, the square in Mexico City. From a distance they look like an anonymous mass, silently taking the shape of a question mark, and engaging in a collective interrogation of the very nature of public, urban space.
Ai Weiwei
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) has achieved international renown for work, which makes a radical challenge to both cultural memory and political reality.
Study of Perspective (1995-2010) is a series of photographs with a common composition: the artist's left arm can be seen in the foreground, making a "one-finger salute", while the background is always occupied by national monuments. The series plays on a well-known photographic exercise used to teach focusing, and at the same time demonstrates a systematic rejection of state power.