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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathPerformance
Malerei deckt zu, Kunst deckt auf! (Kriesche, Richard), 1977Rape (Lennon, John; Ono, Yoko), 1969Two Stage Transfer Drawing (Advancing to a Future State) (Oppenheim, Dennis), 1971
Crux (Hill, Gary), 1983Shoot (Burden, Chris), 1971Prelude to 220, or 110 (Vorspiel zu 220) (Burden, Chris), 1971

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Performativity as inscription, recording, signature

In archaeological terms, artistic treatment of the in-body storage of experience, history and identity can be grasped as a process of disillusionment and disclosure—in line with Richard Kriesche's motto «Painting covers up, art reveals!». On the other hand, the same process can be demonstrated and produced as an act of inscription, as in «Film No.6, Rape» ( John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1969). Whereas a classical artistic perspective on the question of the body-conditioned nature of perception was still evident in Dennis Oppenheim's statement, «My body is the intention, my body is the event, my body is the result,»[47] (see his film «Two Stage Transfer Drawing,» 1972) or Gary Hill's video installation «Crux,» an overstepping of the symbolic was obvious in Chris Burden's famous actions such as «Shoot» (1971), in which he allowed himself to be shot in the arm, or «Prelude to 220, or 110» (1976), in which he exposed himself to the danger of electric shocks. In 1974 the French artist François Pluchart published a body art manifesto that equally applied to those early 1970s performances targeting the media. He calls them


«irreconcilable,» a form in which «the power of a language counts that disturbs, dissects and reveals.»[48] Once again, therefore, it was a matter—reflecting the tradition of Antonin Artaud's Theater of Cruelty—of the inalienable aspect of an experience conveyed through the body. The art historian Kristine Stiles discerned in such performances the «illustration of the deep belief in the ego as subject,» a rebellion against the imminent dissolution of the notion of the subject. Or as Carolee Schneemann put it: «Performance art [has got] an enormous amount of internalized fury, anger, rebellion that would potentially, in another kind of society, go to very positive social action.… So much alienation and fury indicates to me a breakdown of the utilization of the self and of its integration into a real functioning unit.»[49]

«Discovering just how much reality humankind can bear.»[50] The question of what is real can probably be answered only in specific aspects: philosophically, biologically, and so forth. In terms of media theory, then, the question must run: Which constitutive media element is characteristic of reality, or is it a matter of

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