It’s really just a matter of preference, I suppose. And when it comes to art, participation is what I’m really after. I’m weary of watching, of listening, of reading, of the taking-in-all the-time. I want to interact, to do, to sweat, to work, to play, to invent, to make messes. I want to be on the creation side of things. When I do create, I want others to mess with my stuff. I want to engage others to the extent that their participation alters the work itself. I want unpredictable results and I want results that matter.
I’m inspired by the potential of performance art to blur the boundary between audience and performer. I see the possibility for transformation through participation and then nothing much seems to happen. Even when the piece calls itself “interactive” or “participatory,” the distinction between audience and performer seems even more significant, and the result is often confusing at best, and sometimes simply humiliates the participating audience with no lessons learned.
I admit that my disappointment has more to do with my own misunderstanding and distorted expectation of what is possible than the result of anything wrong with the form itself.
On what else can I blame my confusion? Maybe it’s that much of performance art takes place in intimate settings, or that performance is live, or performers often look like they have no special talent and are doing what anybody could do, or that performance often demands imaginative interpretation. Maybe it’s because so many of us still don’t know what performance art is.
I’m not blaming performance art. It’s all my fault. I should know better. Maybe if I had gone to art school…