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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

The Art of Living

An Oral History of Performance Art

ISBN 9781137322203
Publication Date August 2015
Formats Paperback Ebook Hardcover 
Publisher Palgrave

Across a series of twelve in-depth interviews with a diverse range of major artists, Dominic Johnson presents a new oral history of performance art. From uses of body modification and physical extremity, to the creation of all-encompassing personae, to performance pieces lasting months or years, these artists have provoked and explored the vital limits between art and life. Their discussions with Johnson give us a glimpse of their artistic motivations, preoccupations, processes, and contexts. Despite the diversity of art forms and experiences featured, common threads weave between the interviews: love, friendship, commitment, death and survival.

Each interview is preceded by an overview of the artist's work, and the volume itself is introduced by a thoughtful critical essay on performance art and oral history. The conversational tone of the interviews renders complex ideas and theoretical propositions accessible, making this an ideal book for students of Theatre and Performance, as well as for artists, scholars and general readers.

Dominic Johnson is Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London. He is Assistant Editor of Contemporary Theatre Review and is the author of Glorious Catastrophe: Jack Smith, Performance and Visual Culture and Theatre and the Visual.

1. The Escape Artist: An Interview with Ulay
2. Hiding in Plain Sight: An Interview with Anne Bean
3. Boxing Clever: An Interview with Kipper Kids
4. Positive Surrender: An Interview with BREYER P-ORRIDGE
5. Slave to Love: An Interview with Sheree Rose
6. The Designated Mourner: An Interview with Penny Arcade
7. Capricorn on Fire: An Interview with Ann Magnuson
8. The Accidental Goddess: An Interview with Joey Arias
9. Perverse Martyrologies: An Interview with Ron Athey
10. The Skin of the Theatre: An Interview with Julia Bardsley
11. You Made Me Love You: An Interview with David Hoyle
12: Held: An Interview with Adrian Howells
Further Reading


A must-read. Johnson is a sensitive and well-informed interviewer, who manages to solicit from his conversation partners extensive and frank accounts. They remind us that for these artists performance is not just an ephemeral act but a life-long practice that has profound material and immaterial consequences for those who commit to it.' - Heike Roms, Aberystwyth University, UK
'Dominic Johnson demonstrates admirably how asking performance artists the right questions can be a highly effective critical research tool. Acutely attuned to broader issues of contemporary live art and performance culture and its histories, as well as intimately acquainted with the distinctive practices of his interlocutors, he succeeds in drawing out rich oral testimonies from a range of landmark figures which form their very own, immensely engaging living history of performance art.' - Nicholas Whybrow, University of Warwick, UK
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