For many people who don’t happen to be in Art or Theatre or Dance, their wedding is their one, great piece of theatrical production.
Weddings are big-budget productions featuring rich casts, spectacular wardrobe, and complex choreography. So are they performance art?
In one sense, certainly yes!
I also believe that the best art is an investigation. Art is different from science, yet like science, I believe that true investigation cannot have a pre-ordained conclusion. The process of creating a work of art can’t, or I hope doesn’t, march to a pre-visualized conclusion, but follows its own path of inquiry often to unexpected ends. This can be true of a “finished” painting now hanging in a gallery. And with public art, alive in public space, the experience is further complexified by spontaneous improvisations from a multiplicity of participants.
Yes, alcohol at a wedding reception does provide for a degree of indeterminacy. But at that point the performance of the wedding is already past and this is just the after party. And even here, the event is punctuated with heavily scripted moments like toasts about the true and extraordinary love we are witness to today, or faces smashed in cake, or making out on cue, or the flinging of underwear into a public crowd.
Considering the many thousands and tens of thousands of euros even people of modest means spend on weddings today, I have a proposal. Simplify the wedding. Cut the cost. And make it a real piece of performance art by embracing uncertainty and multiple participant-authors.
Here’s a few videos:
- Athena Reich made a whole series, All About Performance Art, which I’ve collected here and I’ve offered a sample from below.
- Jessica Lack, Frank Skinner & Susan Doyon made Unlock Art: Skinner on Performance Art for The Tate.
- Here’s Klaus Biesenbach and RoseLee Goldberg talking about their exhibition 100 Years of Performance Art.
- Hennessy Youngman also made a video on Performance Art, unfortunately it was censored by YouTube so I’ll instead share his insights on Relational Aesthetics below.