Durational and Endurance Performance Art

All performance takes place over time, but there are works that specifically address time as a part of the art.

In a time of short attention spans, durational and endurance art take on new meaning and challenge not just the artist, but the audience to surrender themselves to attending to a process unfolding. While all performance art is durational, foregrounding time as an active element in a work changes audience perception and meaning of an action. ‘One could argue almost every art form is time based, dance, theater, poetry … all unfold over time. The difference for durational and endurance artists may be in the intention and attending to time and how the element of time becomes as important as movement, paint or other media. In dance and theater, for example, the difference is in attending to timings of actions (pauses, rhythms, tempo) vs. attending to the action and presence of time.

Examples of durational art include Chris Burden’s Five Day Locker Piece (1971), Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance 1980–1981 (Time Clock Piece), and Marina Abramović’s The House with the Ocean View (2003), where she lived silently for 12 days without food or entertainment. The physical stamina required for some of these works is significant, and artists like Abramović have even created “boot camps” for participants in her multiple-person performances. Durational performances are often challenging both for the artist and the audience, pushing the limits of attention spans and endurance.

Notable durational artists from South America, include Brazilian multimedia artist Paulo Nazareth , who famously traveled on foot from Minas Gerais to New York as part of his decade-long performance art piece . Another Brazilian artist, Laura Lima, has created durational performances such as “Man falls from building”, where a performer descends slowly down the facade of a building over the course of several hours. In Chile, artist Bruna Truffa has staged “immersive durational performances” that invite the audience to participate in activities such as cooking or cleaning. Argentine artist Marta Minujín created a 60-hour performance piece in which she and several other artists built a massive “obelisk” out of books that had been banned by the Argentine government. The piece was eventually burned as a statement against censorship. These are just a few examples among many in the thriving contemporary art scenes across South America.

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