Wednesday, 5 October 2011


What is Live Art?

I got into a recent conversation (which I think I lost on terminology- but not in belief) about what we can class Live Art as being.

If I say I am studying Live Art, going to see Live Art….what do you immediately think of?
Theatre? Dance? Live music? Installation? Some crazy woman half naked covered in body paint?

To me live art reflects the idea that it is a piece of work that will never be seen again, it is for one moment only, no matter how many times you view it, it will inevitably be changed during the course of time, and in effect this Live Art will die.

The definition says:
Live Art is a term used to describe acts of performance undertaken by an artist or a group of artists, as a work of art. It is an innovative and exploratory approach to contemporary performance practices. Live Art can also be referred to as time-based art, as the exploration of temporality tends to be a key theme of this sort of work.

Live Art is a varied and diverse practice. By its very nature live art "defies precise of easy definition beyond the simple definition that it is live art by artists". Below are a series of definitions of the term Live Art:

Tate Collection:

"Live Art mainly refers to Performance art and Action art and their immediate precursor Happenings, together with the developments of Performance since the 1960s”.

Live Art Archive:

"Live Art can be defined as "art work that broadly embraces ephemeral, time-based, visual and performing arts events that include a human presence and broaden, challenge or question traditional views of the arts".

The Live Art Development Agency:

"Live Art should not be understood as a description of an art form but as a strategy to ‘include' a diversity of practices and artists that might otherwise find themselves ‘excluded' from all kinds of policy and provision and all kinds of curatorial contexts and critical debates".

Live art = something that is live.

So if an artist were to use wood/ paper/ food in their work/installation- then that work would be classed as live work, then could architecture be live art? Even though there isn’t an immediate kinetic reaction/ movement; over time these materials will deteriorate and change- not instantly, but it will happen. So each time a visitor/ spectator views the work it will change and the visual result of the change will be apparent.

So can we class a photograph as live work?

Again we can say that over time the quality of the image will itself decompose, change and disintegrate, in some cases scarring the image itself so that it becomes invisible to the viewer. As expressed above “Live Art embraces…time-based, visual and performing arts events that included a human presence…” Then surely a photograph is the result of a moment of time captured/ recorded to be remembered of a live event- a live moment that happened (whether that be of a sitter- alive, a landscape/ nature- alive, an object- partially alive depending on the object material).

The human presence is the reality that the photographer… someonehad to be there in order for the picture to be taken. It wasn’t draw and replicated from a memory or another image in a book, or a description. A person, a live person had to be present for this image to be created.
Therefore is this live work; A recording of a live time which over a period will be erased and lost.

What is live work???

Photograph via The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art.

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