In the seventies, when performance as artistic expression was first named in its own right, performance was practiced by a group of artists who brought life to the many formal and conceptual ideas of art at that time. Howbeit, the Dadaists and Futurists had already used performative practices a generation earlier. They brought the artists body into focus and distanced themselves from the predominant discussion of painting and sculpture.
Overcoming waves of movements and expressions, performance art has been enjoying an international resurgence. Currently meeting the side effects of a digitalized and fast-paced life, performance art continues to play doppelganger to the mainstream. Unlike other media, performance breaks from the limitations of formal expression. Rooted in the immediacy of time and space, the collapsing moment of creation and existence is directly shared with the audience.
Born in Turkey and raised in Germany, Nezaket Ekici uses her own cultural heritage as a backdrop for her treatment of gender roles and identity. The visual language of her works plays with prototypical images that are constantly being broken and undercut. Ambiguity plays a central role in Ekicis work, which is achieved by a constantly interweaving of cultural commonplaces and personal-subjective classification. A former student of Marina Abramovic, the artists own body is her means of expression. Ekici walks a line on the threshold of pain, which is sometimes crossed. Ekicis performances create a strong emotional connection between the artist and viewer, yet the experience of pain remains with the artist, never to be shared. The image is one of sublimated violence both formally and with regards to content yet always covered in visually high aesthetics, which attributes all of her works with an almost religious appearance.
The human being as part of society and as individual takes center stage in the work of young artist Anna Witt. In performative interventions, Anna Witt questions social systems as well as the role the individual plays within. Following body art traditions of the seventies, she initiates situations in public, which intervene in everyday life. Those actions are recorded and subsequently shown as videos and installations. In Push, she asks passers-by to push her down on a car and, on return, replicates the action with them. In another work she approaches customers in a shopping mall, asking them to grasp a radical thought and write it down. Each idea is compiled afterwards. Anna Witts approach is to bring about the idea of empowerment and self-reflection by the means of confrontation.
Beside being a leading Saudi Arabian visual artists, Abdulnasser Gharem also serves as a Major in the Saudi Arabian Army. His military service is a socially respected position, which enables him to follow his artistic practice. Gharems studio is the street, expressing himself with site-specific installations, text based-works and performance. In The Path, one of his favorite and most ambitious works, Gharem repeatedly spray painted the word "Al Siraat" (translation "path" or "way") on a broken bridge. People of an adjacent village, hoped to find shelter there from a deadly flood, but it killed almost everyone. The work is about choices, taking right path or not, but can also be interpreted as the bridge, which every Muslim has to pass on Judgment Day. Another work showed the artist walking down the street carrying a Cornocapus Erectus tree, both wrapped in plastic. This visually poetic image bears a subtle commentary on globalization, since originally an import from Australia, the trees had a dramatically negative effect on the native plant population. Gharems works are inextricably connected with social and geographic structures, functioning as commentaries rather than critique.
Aideen Barrys artistic focus deals with the notion of the "uncanny". Through performance, video, film, sculpture and drawing, she examines our perceptions and creates images on the border between the truly perceivable and pure imagination: in-between spaces, heterotopia as Foucault called them whose otherness allows a reflection on the realities. One of her latest performance works, Flight Folly premiered this year at LISTE The Young Art Fair in Basel, and was drawn from her experience with weightlessness gained during a research fellowship in astronaut training at NASA. Through this work, she explores historical notions of fairs or world expositions and how experiments in flight were commonplace at those venues. Aligning literal female characters (e.g. Bram Stoker or Jospeh Sheridan Le Fanu) with philosophic theories both times focusing on unnatural human behavior, and preoccupied furthermore with engineering inventions or scientific thoughts of the last century, Barrys concern is to search for the new figure of gothic subversion in the contemporary Diaspora.
Silke Bitzer is an independent curator and art critic. For the past three years, she has directed the Performance Project, a series that focuses on emerging international talent, at LISTE The Young Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland. She has realized several international exhibitions including Failed Art The Art of Failure at Halle 14, Baumwollspinnerei in Leipzig, Germany. Silke worked as assistant curator at the Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany after obtaining her M.A. in art history, economics and Spanish. Currently she is again working with the Kunstverein Freiburg as Project Manager for the institutions upcoming international art competition. Silke is a member of the Board of Advisors at the Jardim Canadá Centro de Arte e Tecnologia (JACA) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and has received scholarships from The Danish Arts Council.