‘Due to its unusual nature, performance art was often excluded from galleries and museums. However, this began to change with the new millennium. ‘

Performance art in the 2000s…

Throughout the twentieth century, Performance Art has been associated with shocking practices such as body art, where the artists exploit their body to transmit a dramatic message, and feminist art, which reflected the political happenings of the time. Many of its exponents have, in fact, gained popularity by astonishing its spectators with violent forms of behaviour such as self-cutting, activism and masochism. Due to its unusual nature, performance art was often excluded from galleries and museums. However, this began to change with the new millennium.

In the twenty-first century, globalisation and the development of new technologies bring to the creation of a more interconnected and visual culture that desires to express art in the forms and behaviours that best suits their preferences. These key changes in the art scene facilitate the acceptance of performance into mainstream, which is now part of events and exhibitions hosted in the most prestigious art galleries around the world.

‘VB61’ by Vanessa Beecroft, 2007
Following several years of studies in Italy, Beecroft staged her first performance ‘VB01’ in Milan in 1993. The exhibition featured a circle of immobile nude models surrounding the artist’s food diary: ‘The Book of Food’. This type of presentation became the signature style of Beecroft’s performances, ideal for exploring and exhibiting her personal battles with body image, eating disorders and the female form in contemporary culture. Since ‘VB01’, Beecroft has performed in several museums and institutions over the world such as the ‘Gagosian Gallery’ in New York, the ‘Gallery of Modern Art’ in Bologna, the ‘Institute of Contemporary Art’ in London, and the ‘Wacoal Art Centre’ in Tokyo. Beecroft is also a leading figure in the fashion and design world; she has, in fact, collaborated with Tom Ford and Miuccia Prada. More Recently, in 2010, she began working with Kanye West, taking part in the direction of his fashion shows.

Although her performances usually revolve around female body issues, one of the artist’s most powerful and impressive exhibitions is ‘VB61, Still Death! Darfur Still Deaf?’ in response to the Darfur genocide. This work is shown at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007 for the duration of three hours. For this presentation, thirty Sudanese women lied on untouched canvases on the floor, resembling the dead bodies of the ongoing massacres in Africa. During the exhibition, Beecroft walked around the bodies and covered them with strips of red paint. Despite the harsh and brutal scenery of the performance, ‘VB61’ is one of the most memorable pieces ever produced by the artist. In this work, Beecroft merges art and politics: it is a graphic representation of the immoral happenings in Africa and a critique on the people’s desensitisation to these images due to the spread of violence in the media. ‘VB61’ emphasises the necessity to understand the reality of appalling events such as death and war.

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