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Vital Signs: Performance in the 21st Century (TAPS 156V, TAPS 256V)


The first decade and a half of the 21st century have been transformative for performance art. On the one hand, it brought an unprecedented cultural acceptance of this art form, which is now featured in most prestigious museums and art festivals; on the other, the most recent generation of performance artists is showing a great awareness of the historicity and complexity of this form. In this class, we will try to recognize and investigate these and other prominent features of performance art produced since the turn of the millennium. We will use as our primary case studies performances that will be featured in the series Vital Signs: Contemporary Performance Art Series, hosted by TAPS in 2017-2018. The primary objective of the series is to highlight and showcase underrepresented performance forms such as experimental performance art, durational art, and body art, among others, by artists from communities that remain invisible or underrepresented in mainstream performing arts. The series is curated by the Los Angeles-based artist Cassils, who has been listed by the Huffington Post as 'one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape of contemporary art' and has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. Cassils's curatorial vision is to present established performance artists alongside emerging artists. Each quarter, a pair of artists will visit Stanford for two days (Thursday-Friday). On day one of their visit they will offer a workshop or a public performance, and on the second day they will engage in a public dialogue. The class will meet each quarter for three weeks: before, during, and after the artists' visit. This way, the students will have an opportunity to prepare for the visit, engage with the visiting artists, and reflect on their work. They will receive their grades upon completion of the class, in the spring of 2018.