The 1990s have seen an explosion of interest in body art, in which the artist's body is integral to the work of art. With the revoking of NEA funding for such artists as Karen Finley, Tim Miller and others, public awareness and media coverage of body-oriented performances have increased. Yet the roots of body art extend to the 1960s and before. In this book, Amelia Jones explores body art projects from the 1960s and 1970s and relates their impact to the work of body artists active today, providing a conceptual framework for defining postmodernism in the visual arts. Jones begins with a discussion of the shifting intellectual terrain of the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on the work of Ana Mendieta. Moving to an examination of the reception of Jackson Pollock's "performative" acts of painting, she argues that Pollock is a pivotal figure between modernism and postmodernism. The book continues with explorations of Vito Acconci and Hannah Wilke, whose practices exemplify a new kind of performance that arose in the late 1960s, one that represents a dramatic shift in the conception of the artistic subject.
Jones then surveys the work of a younger generation of artists - incuding Laurie Anderson, Orlan, Maureen Connor, Lyle Ashton Harris, Laura Aguilar and Bob Flanagan - whose recent work integrates technology and issues of identity to continue to expand the critique begun in earlier body art projects. Embracing a mix of methodologies and perspectives (including feminism, queer theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis and literary theory), this examination of body art provides historical insight and context that rethinks the parameters of postmodern culture.
From the Publisher
Examines the social and cultural significance of body art.
"Insightfully self-reflexive and critical re-reading of modernism and postmodernism." Saul Ostrow, Bomb Magazine
"Body Art/Performing the Subject is a timely and immediately necessary book, of interest to students of performance art and to painters alike. Joness rigorous analysis of 70s and 90s body art is grounded in a feminist and phenomenological reevaluation of modernist and postmodern criticism. Jones writes the engaged, engendered, embodied, intersubjective criticism she calls for." Mira Schor, painter and author of Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture
"Amelia Joness important book engages body art through a self-consciously performative approach to interpretation. It marks a critical moment in the reception of body art and will be essential reading for anyone concerned with contemporary art." Christine Poggi, University of Pennsylvania
"This is a deeply moving and important studynot only the best book on the subject but one of the most brilliant books in any area of art history to appear in some time. Body Art/Performing the Subject continues to confirm the opinion of many that Jones is the most perceptive and original voice in contemporary art history, theory, and criticism to have emerged in a generation." Donald Preziosi, University of California at Los Angeles
"With great originality and scholarship, Amelia Jones maps out an extraordinary history of body art over the last three decades and embeds it in the theoretical terrain of postmodernism. The result is a wonderful and permissive space in which the viewer/reader can wander, guided not only by her or his own will and desire but also by Joness brilliant cartography." Moira Roth, Trefethen Professor of Art History, Mills College, and editor of Rachel Rosenthal and the Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Art in America, 1970-1980