Performance art by its very nature cannot be preserved, but Tate have made a brave stab at it. The curators of this exhibition (14 November-25 January, 2004) have interpreted the term “performance art” as widely as possible, and although no actual performances have been organised, the show includes conceptual works and recordings of work such as photographs or videos. The earlist piece is a film of around 1900 of dancer Loïe Fuller, whose serpentine movements are said to have inspired the classic Art Nouveau “swish”, and the most recent are contemporaryworks by Catherine Opie and Hayley Newman. Between them is a potted history of the ephemeral medium including important works like Joseph Beuys’s “I like America and America likes me” (1974), a film of the artist locked in a room with a pugnacious coyote, perhaps to exorcise the spirit of the white colonialism of native America, and a beautiful photograph of “Pelican” (right), Robert Rauschenberg’s ballet-cum-installation of 1963. Much curatorial care has been taken to analyse the possible categories of the medium, with sections on forgotten documents of performance art, and on collaborations between artists and filmmakers. In association with Tate the nearby Bluecoat Arts Centre is staging new performances by artists including the London-based Pacitti company.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Art, lies and videotape: exposing performance.Tate Liverpool'