The Prevalence of Performance Art in Aesthetics and Contemporary Art

Disclaimer: This is not a sample of our professional work. The paper has been produced by a student. You can view samples of our work here. Opinions, suggestions, recommendations and results in this piece are those of the author and should not be taken as our company views.

Type of Academic Paper – Essay

Academic Subject – Art

Word Count – 3370 words

Contemporary Art – Introduction

In the modern world, the term “Performance Art” has been constantly changed which has resulted in different varieties of forms and arts that have influenced several scholars and artists to conduct researchers and theses (Lambert-Beatty, 2016). Performance Art is mostly related to time-based art which consists of live presentations in front of the audience and comprising of different art forms, including dance, music, acting, poetry, and painting. Most of the artists and scholar identify performance art as a contemporary form of art and giving a rise to number of artists and stage players, but this particular art form arose in the early 1970s (Finel Honigman, 2015).

The term performance art is a multitude of different art activities while the diversity of styles is the prompt features of such events and happenings. The journey of performance art has been gaining a sufficient raise and subsequently increasing the number of artists in the same domain. Marina Abramovic and Orlan are some of the leading names that have gained significant prominence in the field of performance art. This particular study is aimed to explore how these artists have gained significant visibility in the field of performance art. More significantly, this essay aims to explore the aesthetic point of view of performance art, underpinning the best examples of the artists and their views and masterpieces in the field of contemporary art.


In the realm of modern and contemporary art, performance art has been giving proper attention. The current art world comprises of a variety of artists who have been engaged in performance art practices by diversifying their art journey from conventional media and art forms to the modern world of art and including aesthetics and their own physical body as a tool to express the artistic side, views, and issues of the contemporary world (Millner and Moore, 2015). The artists of the modern world are known as avant-garde artists include new experiments in the form of art. One of the prominent names in the world of performance art is Marina Abramovic while several critiques have also been for her work. Artaud (2014) explained that the term performance art is related to the live performances, which is way too different with the traditional form of arts where artists perform live events, theatres and other live performances. The scope of performance art increased when artists brought visual and live performances in front of audiences and the general public while eliminating the confinement of art to galleries. On the other hand, Mermikides and Bouchard (2016) explained that performance artists explained art to be the social commentary of the transparency of art which can be visible in front of the public. The performance art is based on live performances while it is important that the two performances should not be the same.

The rise of performance art occurred with the extensive use of new technologies and amongst which, autobiographical pieces are considered as an effective platform in order to showcase the views and reviews of social issues and causes. The evolution of art with the inclusion of new technologies and exponentially increased the prevalence of aesthetics in live performances where artists combine imagination and technology to perform in front of live audience (Greenberg, 2015). The aesthetic approaches in art , more specifically in performance art underpins anthropological ways of analyzing different cultures which defined as a complex aesthetic reflecting and symbolizing the objectification of human images to define and elaborate social issues and concerns by including diversified realities. In modern art history and in the view of Kantian aesthetic discourse, the critic, as well as the artist, are being portrayed as distant and objectified subjects that are remained as transcendent instead of embodied subjects (Allain and Harvie, 2014). The emerging artists in the mid-20th century showed a dramatic shift in society and cultures that has been envisaged as the major contribution to the post-modern period. The art forms including the veiled bodies represented the value and meaning with the rise of performances. In the post-modern period, the bodies of artists were functioning as a form of resistance to social power relating with being itself and with the performance. The unveiling of the bodies is considered as the embedding and enactment of self with the society (Akman, 2015).

Analysis of the Project

According to the post-modern approach of art, Kaprow identified that performance art and modernist art practices are the final product of arts but it also comprises of active involvement of artist itself in the process of making or living (Senior and Kelly, 2016). More specifically, modern and performance art is depicted as a common experience prior to intensified and framed understanding of the experience of the artists. The flux of living and relating with aesthetics experiences was introduced by Kaprow and Dewey by illustrating that an experience is an organic form that is represented in different social forms, beginnings, and patterns in order to gain aesthetic qualities and attributes (Lu, 2016). These explained that experience is always aesthetic in nature which is proactive, intellectual and thoughtful which arose because of criticism taking place. Moreover, most of the work on aesthetic view of performance art is related to the effects on the public or by the way it is being interpreted by the non-specialist participants and viewers (Stitt, 2015). As per Dewey’s perspective, the aesthetic experience is a way of connecting with the world and nature by defining it as an intrinsic connection between the social and natural aesthetic forms of the experiences.

One of the leading names in the field of performance art is Marina Abramovic who combined imagination, visual art, and performance in her meaning of art. Her life experiences and her way of expressing her experiences in an artistic and aesthetic way are much related to the live presentation of the incidents that occurred in her life (Finel Honigman, 2015). Since Marina Abramovic had experienced the insights of the Second World War; her artistic pieces depict the idea of rebellion in a wider context. Marina Abramovic explained the sensuality and aesthetics by exploring the brutal use of one’s body in a proactive and open way which has brought the revolution in performance art (Bennett, 2013). The art of Marina Abramovic has undergone the revolution from parallel changes of body art to the changes in the perception and appropriation of the use of the body as per the context of art. The perception of the body and the usage of the body has seen a significant change in modern art history which is being served as a platform in order to access another plane (Rizzo, 2017). With the use of body and performance art, artists have been exploring instability and contingency. Marina Abramovic explored the notion of awareness and consciousness and the method of exploring the ways of expressing oneself which can be ephemeral, liminal, and invisible (Lambert-Beatty, 2016).

The focus of Marina Abramovic on artist’s body is related to the comprehension of performance as the transformative instrument which is considered to be having the power to transform the experience which can be functioned in a wider context (refer to appendix). The work of Marina Abramovic, furthermore explains the resistance of pain and emotional and spiritual transformation within the human body which is a complex compositional form such as performance. It consists of body elements, silence, body and participation of spectators (Lambert-Beatty, 2016). On the other hand, Marina Abramovic’s work has also faced criticism from different artists and has faced a confrontational encounter with her art performance encounters with strict lines. The art of Marina Abramovic depicted the invisibility of commodification of the art medium and art object. However the use of aesthetics and performance art in its artwork has faced a challenging situation of the idea of preservability (refer to appendix). This transformation in the world of performance art has undergone the absorption of politics and abnegation and subjectivity in arts (Schneider, 2011). The work of Marina Abramovic shows that the human will is much weaker than the physical existence of the body as it can tolerate excess pain while the human mind is not capable of tolerating the mental consciousness and effects to the broken heart in a traumatic experience. According to Abramovic (2007), the traumatic experiences pose a great threat to human minds which Marina Abramovic tried to portray in her social experiments of dehumanising her own body in public where people were allowed to deface her objectively. The performance art in the views of Marina Abramovic was the interpretation of stressing the human body (refer to appendix).

On the other hand, the performance art direction sketched by Orlan is another depiction of how people and artists consider aesthetics to be defying the common stereotypes of body and face (Akman, 2015). In the views of Orlan, performance art and aesthetics is nothing but a matter of life and death. She underwent several surgeries while each surgery defined a significant change in her facial features, defying the common stereotypes of beauty and aesthetics. The work of Orlan is known as Carnal Art in which she distinguished the art with her body art while acknowledging it from common sources (refer to appendix). According to Greenberg (2015), Orlan looks like radical artists and her Cruella de Vil-style hairdo is an exception to her demonstration and difference between body art and common stereotypes of beauty. The carnal art of Orlan involved personal risk and asserted that it is for pleasure and sensuality, endurance and suffering. According to Mermikides and Bouchard (2016), Orlan’s work is much more of a struggle between the innate and inexorable as she has been an active feminist which was coming second while men are coming first.

Orlan has depicted a blunt and brutal picture of performance art of destruction of the body. The gory and blunt images of her transmit the alarming signals of psychological and social disorders (refer to appendix). The depiction and redefining of her body by going in the inverse direction from the people who depicted performance art and aesthetics to be an emotional and spiritual way of portraying the social issues is much more of feminism. According to Millner and Moore (2015), Orlan was much more of a feminist instead of an artist who considered that self-destruction is a way of depicting the social issues which have been occurring in society. Several critiques have occurred which showed that the performances of Orlan are the ritual submissions and primitive rites which revolve around eliminating women of aggressive instincts of any type from the society. She explained that beauty and aesthetics are one which can be seen spiritually while it is important to have emotional and spiritual control over destiny (Stitt, 2015).


Hire an Expert Essay Writer

Orders completed by our expert writers are

  • Formally drafted in an academic style
  • Free Amendments and 100% Plagiarism Free – or your money back!
  • 100% Confidential and Timely Delivery!
  • Free anti-plagiarism report
  • Appreciated by thousands of clients. Check client reviews

Interpretation of the Project

The analysis carried out depicts that performance art has undergone a significant change and shift from traditional galleries to body art. However several authors and artists depicted that performance art has not been shifting, but it’s evolving with the passage of time and inclusion of the latest technologies. The analysis carried out in the above section depicted that performance-based art has seen the inclusion of body art where artists have been deconstructing their bodies and body organs (Abramovic and Biesenbach, 2010). It can be interpreted that Orlan’s work is nothing new but it is directly linked with traditional body art. In the early 1960s, traditional body artists have been raising their concerns for social causes and issues. The body-oriented work of Orlan is connected with traditional body art practices, however, it can be said that the artists separate her from traditional aspirations (refer to appendix). According to Orlan:

“There is a fine line between traditional body art and carnal art. The Carnal Art is contrary to body art which is not related with pain, source of purification and it is also not a concern of redemption, but it is a matter of spirituality.”

This implies that the performance art ways used by Orlan are the depiction of pain, by using pain by determining the connection between emotions and art. The use of traditional body art, along with the using surgeries and the use of pain distinguished her work from her fellow body artists who used pain to focus on artistic credibility. The self-mutilation and liberation of the body using her performance seemed painful, but for her, it is something aspirational, aesthetic, and depicting the true meaning of body art with the combination of performance art (refer to appendix). The work of Orlan is considered as the change in her social and physical identity which is confined in the body art. Senior and Kelly (2016) criticized that:

“Orlan’s work is quite distinguishable from other artists as she used plastic surgeries as a medium and is defined as the multi-disciplinary artists who combined art, body art, and the connection between different disciplines such as medicine, art, prosthetic body using different kinds of media.”

This can be said that the post-modern approach of performance art has given a rise to a number of artists who used technology and different forms and disciplines to explain particular psychological and social issues (refer to appendix). Orlan’s work is a true illustration that combines the views of body art, aesthetics, and self-destruction. On the other hand, the analyses showed that Marina Abramovic’s work is much more strong and magnetic in nature as it included the attraction with the body, art, social issues, and self-destruction (Millner and Moore, 2015). The attraction between these elements is considered violent as people believe that the depiction of self-harm by using art and performances creates a contradicting picture of art and destruction in public. The performance work of Marina Abramovic depicting her personal experiences is a vast journey that has been transforming its shapes from politics to aesthetics and from traditional art galleries to the general public. According to Artaud (2014):

“The work of Marina Abramovic illustrates the strong relationship between the community, artists, and participants on the basis of mental and physical availability. However, each piece of work of Marina Abramovic is a vulnerable depiction of the human body, art, and assault. The performance art of Marina Abramovic demonstrates that the destruction of the human body starts gradually but it gets bolder with the increasing interests of participants.”

This implies that the work of Marina Abramovic in the field of performance art is a true illustration of acceptable risks and the power of art while exploring and provoking the audiences through self-exploitation and raising ethical questions about criticism and spectatorship. This implies that the work of Marina Abramovic has been a pure depiction of life and death with the help of art (Greenberg, 2015). The works of both the artists were similar to some extent however there is a pure distinction between self-harm and destruction. The experiments conducted by both the artists were similar to some contest which transformed the forms of performance art from traditional art galleries to public art performances where artists undergo the activities to link their bodies with ethical witnessing and traumatic experiences in order to increase self-awareness of aesthetics and beauty in front of the audience (Lu, 2016). The prevalence of arts and aesthetics in contemporary art history has been shifting while these artists have been depicting the true picture of self-image and how people can perceive art when there are being traumatized publically.

Final conclusion

This study explained how the aesthetics in arts has been including and reshaping the traditional form and practices of performance art in the modern world of art. It has been identified in this study that Marina Abramovic and Orlan have been some of the prompt names in the modern world of performance arts which has become prominent because of their live performance which included the elements of self-harm and destruction. Marina Abramovic considered that performance art is the way of expressing thoughts and raise voices against the concerns and causes by portraying oneself using social experiments. The use of social appearances and visibility by using effective art form, except the traditional art galleries and while performing live. On the other hand, Orlan has undergone several surgeries to redefine the definition of aesthetics and beauty on the basis of which, feminism has been the prominent element in the work of Orlan. The use of self-destruction, however, is the common element in the works of both the artists who used social appearances and visibility to raise their voices using body art. Several criticisms have also been presented which raised concerns of these negative images on the perception of performance art and aesthetics; however, there have been included studies in the study that explained this shift in the art field from traditional to modern forms of art. Thus as a concluding statement that with the inclusion of new technologies and innovation, performance art has also been experiencing a significant change in the form of arts while the prevalence of aesthetics in modern and contemporary art while portraying pain is a new way of depicting art through social visibility of artistic bodies.


  • Abramovic, M. (2007). 7 easy pieces. Charta.
  • Abramovic, M., & Biesenbach, K. (2010). Marina Abramović: The artist is present. The Museum of Modern Art.
  • Akman, K. (2015). Orlan and the Work of Art in the Age of Hyper-mechanical Organic Reproduction. The Sociological Perspectives, 3.
  • Allain, P., & Harvie, J. (2014). The Routledge companion to theatre and performance. Routledge.
  • Artaud, A. (2014). MULTIMEDIA PERFORMANCE. The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, 210.
  • Bennett, S. (2013). Body Art. The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance, 134.
  • Finel Honigman, A. (2015). A Known Beauty: Models-Turned-Artists Challenge Beauty Privilege. Fashion Theory, 19(5), 617-636.
  • Greenberg, R. (2015). Museums, Women, and the Web. The International Handbooks of Museum Studies.
  • Lambert-Beatty, C. (2016). Against Performance Art.
  • Lu, L. (2016). 3 Empathy and Resonant Relationships in Performance Art. Experiencing Liveness in Contemporary Performance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 109.
  • Mermikides, A., & Bouchard, G. (Eds.). (2016). Performance and the Medical Body. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  • Millner, J., & Moore, C. (2015). ‘Performing Oneself Badly?’Neo-Burlesque and Contemporary Feminist Performance Art. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 15(1), 20-36.
  • Rizzo, M. (2017). Framing Abramović: a performance artist’s use of body, space and technology (Bachelor’s thesis, University of Malta).
  • Schneider, R. (2011). Performing remains: Art and war in times of theatrical reenactment. Taylor & Francis.
  • Schneider, R. (2011). Performing remains: Art and war in times of theatrical reenactment. Taylor & Francis.
  • Senior, A., & Kelly, S. (2016). On the Dialectics of Charisma in Marina Abramović’s The Artist is Present. Performance Research, 21(3), 74-83.
  • Stitt, A. (2015). Performing Political Acts: Performance Art in Northern Ireland: Ritual, Catharsis and Transformation. Intellect Books/Live Art Development Agency.

Annotated Bibliography

  • Abramović, M., & Abramović, V. (1998). Marina Abramović: artist body: performances 1969-1998. Charta.
  • Abramović, M., & Pijnappel, J. (1995). Marina Abramović: cleaning the house. Academy Editions Ltd.
  • Akman, K. (2015). Orlan and the Work of Art in the Age of Hyper-mechanical Organic Reproduction. The Sociological Perspectives, 3.
  • Augsburg, T. (1998). Orlan’s performative transformations of subjectivity. The ends of performance, 285-314.
  • Auslander, P. (2004). Postmodernism and performance. The Cambridge Companion to Postmodernism, 97-115.
  • Carey, C. L. (2016). Embodying the Sacred: Marina Abramović, Transcultural Aesthetics, and the Global Geography of Art.
  • Faber, A. (2002). Saint Orlan: Ritual as violent spectacle and cultural criticism. TDR/The Drama Review, 46(1), 85-92.
  • Howell, A. (2013). The analysis of performance art: a guide to its theory and practice (Vol. 32). Routledge.
  • Ince, K. (2000). Orlan: millennial female. Berg Publishers.
  • Lovelace, C. (1995). Orlan: Offensive Acts. Performing Arts Journal, 17(1), 13-25.
  • Santone, J. (2008). Marina Abramović’s Seven Easy Pieces: Critical Documentation Strategies for Preserving Art’s History. Leonardo, 41(2), 147-152.
  • Vergine, L. (2000). Body art and performance: the body as language. Skira-Berenice.

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on then please:

Request The Removal Of This Essay