Action/performance And The Photograph

Curated by: Craig Krull

The happenings of the 1950s began a movement of staged activities in art in which the photograph played an integral role. Performance and conceptual artists in the 1960s and 1970s often orchestrated events specifically for the camera, events as art intended to occur only once at a given moment in time. The resulting images then became a documentary record of the event in some cases, art objects in themselves.

Action! Performance and the Photograph is an ambitious attempt to follow the evolving role of the photograph in these movements. "This photographic perspective," Krull writes in the catalogue for the show, "considers the inherent technical qualities of the camera, its ability to stop or manipulate time, the question of truth vs. fiction, the symbolic or abstract quality of the still image, the act of photography as an action in itself, and the myriad conceptual differences that lie between catching action and orchestrating it for the camera."

The exhibition includes images with or by several pioneering European artists, including Yves Klein's famous Leap into the Void and Joseph Beuys' Fat. Various interpretations of the female nude are addressed in works including Carolee Schneemann's Up to and Including Her Limits; Hannah Wilke's So Help .A!e Hannah; and Marcel Duchamp 's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (Chess Game at Pasadena Art Museum). Sculpture and performance within the landscape are explored in pieces such as Andy Goldsworthy's Hazel Stick Throws.

Also included are works by Robert Rauschenberg, Allan Kaprow, Eleanor Antin, Chris Burden, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark and the Viennese Actionists (Hermann Nitsch and Rudolph Schwarzkogler), among many others. Seen together, the work of these artists -- whose attitudes toward the photograph are as varied as their artistic approaches -­ represents yet another example of the pivotal role of photography in the development of modem art in all of its many forms, and provides a fascinating sketch of the evolution of the Happening, Performance, Conceptual and related movements.

Action/Performance  and the Photograph is circulated by Curatorial Assistance, h1c., in Los Angeles, and funded by the Canada Council. It accompanies a second exhibition organized by Ann Pollock for Presentation House Gallery titled Transient Moments: Vancouver and the Performance Photograph.

Gallery Press Release
Media Coverage

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The Polygon Gallery continues the forty-year reputation of Presentation House Gallery in engaging the public with the most visionary artists of our time. A new waterfront landmark on Vancouver's North Shore, The Polygon offers a one-of-a-kind space to encounter contemporary visual art with a focus on photography.

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