Art into Action: Performance Art Festivals in Asia

Performance Art Festivals in Asia
Art into Action
Action into Art

Thomas J. Berghuis examines the public value and communal utility of art in relation to performance art in Asia



Art "After" Performance Art

All too often the art world seems to lie dormant amidst the steady supply of tangible objects and distinctive modes of practice; thereby ignoring the multiple manifestations of art through performance—including in its potential remediation in photography, video, and installation. Along with the art market, the museum industry and the studio, the actual practice of art needs to be considered as an important component in the overall schema of art making, as well as the making of culture, society, and everyday life.

Rhetorically speaking, the world may have witnessed the "end of art," but this does not mean that the art world has actually ran out of steam conversing about art. As segments of the art world turn to fashion, design, and media—relational aesthetics becomes one of the ways the art world reminds itself of the important link of art in relation to life; and as a way to relate how art is still able to communicate. 

At the same time, one cannot deny the way in which art continues to draw on degrees of pre-conceived knowledge and experience of the art world itself.3  Art will therefore always risk being related to a division of class, linked to an acquired level of taste and of education that provides access to the art world. Access can transpire in a number of ways – be it through capital, status, or by affiliation. However in no way can it be called absolutely "public," as even the proposed examples of "relational aesthetics" seem to mainly be targeted at probing the collaborative interaction between artists, curators and an informed audience.

As a result, calls for the "end of art" will always be attractive in terms of generating yet another challenge to the stagnant role of art institutions in their confinement of art’s autonomous role in generating grand historical narratives on culture and civilisation. That is, unless art can be related to in a way that it becomes recognised as an important part of our everyday existence; when art becomes synonymous with shared experiences of culture, society, and everyday life. Here, it would be ineffectual to envision any type of existence "after the end of art";1 since this would imply something to the effect of envisioning the "end of culture"; "the end of society"; and, potentially: the "end of our communal existence."2

As a result, "art" once more becomes something tangible and significant to our everyday existence. Nowhere is this more evident than in terms of the continuous role of performance artthereby generating a need to move the discussion of contemporary art beyond the constant emphasis on visual art. This requires a discourse of art, as well as a discourse on its possible ending, to incorporate the need for a discussion of performance art; of art in relation to performance; and of art "after" performance art—whereby “after” both means "following on from-" as well as "conditioned by" the important historical role of performance art.

The need to develop a discourse of art that is conditioned by a discourse of performance art becomes especially important in relation to the development of contemporary art in Asia over the past twenty years or more. Hence, as the first decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, the historical development of performance art in Asia needs to be recognised as something more than just another artistic phenomenon. In many ways it can be argued that performance art—next to installation art—has been an important driving force behind the overall development of contemporary art in and beyond Asia. As a result there is an urgent need to draw attention to the role of performance art in Asia, especially as it further challenges some of the conventional notions of performance art in regions such as Europe and North America.

Throughout the course of its development, the discourse of performance art has been challenged. Most noticeably perhaps, by the introduction and expansion of discourse of performance studies, starting in the 1960s in America, and aimed at providing an interdisciplinary approach to performance—albeit with a strong emphasis on theoretical debates on extending the role of performance in the arts, culture, and society.4 Starting in the 1970s, the term live art was introduced—as a way to draw attention to the historical development of performance art since the early 20th century.5  

More recently the term live art becomes used as a way to draw attention to the intrinsic need of developing some type of live experience as a basic condition for the ontology of performance. This becomes particularly important, as the "open nature of performance" becomes challenged by its "own re-presentation"; in what is considered to be the representation of performance art through its documentation—mainly through discussions of performance documentation in photography and video.6 Instead, one can argue that it may be necessary to open up new discourses of performance art to its inherent re-mediation in a wide range of media – hence of performance in new media.7

At the same time, broadening up the discussion of performance re-mediation can perhaps also be linked to thinking through the extensions of performance art in relation to culture, society, and everyday life. Nowhere does this become clearer than in the development of performance art, and particularly to the development of performance art festivals in Asia during the past twenty years – with numerous important examples of performance artists and performance art festivals situating performance art in relation to socio-political activism and community-making. Therefore, the present discussion will start by drawing attention to the important role of performance art festivals in Asia during the past twenty years.

Performance Art Festivals in Asia

Since the early 1990s, at least sixteen major recurrent international performance art festivals can be identified—all of which had an important influence on the development of performance art and its extensions into contemporary art and culture in Asia. The development of performance art festivals in Asia started in 1993 with the founding of the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) that was conceived in 1992 by the Japanese performance artist Seiji Shimoda. Through NIPAF one can witness how an important part of the development of international performance art festivals in Asia involves the didactic role of these festivals in providing platforms for exchange between emerging developments of performance art in Asia.

These include significant attention to introducing discussions and presentations of historical developments of existing performance art practices and performance art festivals from across the world, as well as in the endorsement of new practices, particularly focused on emerging artists.

By 1999-2000, NIPAF started to provide an important example and model for the organisation of performance art across Asia; including in the founding of the Philippine International Performance Art Festival (PIPAF) by Juan-Mor'o Ocampo in Manila (1999–2005); the Taiwan International Performance Art Festival (TIPAF, later renamed TIPALive) by Wang Mo-lin (2000–02) and Ahlien Z.H. (2003–05); and the Jakarta International Performance Art Festival (JIPAF) organised by Arahmaiani (2000). In South Korea performance art becomes prominent through the Bucheon International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) in Bucheon City; the Gimcheon International Performance Art Festival (GIPAF) in Gimcheon City; and through the work of performance artists Hong O Bong, including in organising a "One Day Performance Art Festival."

Besides connecting itself to these festivals, the important role of NIPAF in generating incentives towards organising international performance art exchanges across Asia can also be identified in China including through the organisation of the Sino-Chinese Performance Exchange programme by Ma Liuming and Seiji Shimoda, in Beijing, in May 1999. Three months later, Chen Jin, Shu Yang, and Zhu Ming founded the Open Art Platform: International Performance Art Festival. Open Art Platform celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2009 with a performance art festival at the 798 Art District in Beijing. Since 2002, Open Art Platform has been run by Chen Jin, with Shu Yang setting up his own highly successful festival, the Dadao Live Art Festival, in 2003.

The collaborative aspect surrounding the organisation of performance art festivals in Asia became further evident in the founding of the Performance Art Platform Asia-network (PAPA) in 2000 that connected the performance art festivals surrounding NIPAF and Seiji Shimoda with Asiatopia, founded in Bangkok in 1998 by Chumpon Apisok. Today Asiatopia provides one of the most important and longest running performance art festivals in Asia, next to NIPAF in Japan.



Before founding Asiatopia, and since the 1980s, Chumpon Apisuk had already been an active supporter of performance art. During this time, Chumpon further became known for his important role in socio-political activism and his human rights work in Thailand. This includes his position as an advocate for the rights of people with AIDS in Thailand, a role that is further enhanced through his work for the EMPOWER foundation, which was founded in 1985 by his wife, Chantawipa Apisuk, and that advocates the rights of sex workers in Thailand.  In 1993 Chumpon Apisuk founded Concrete House—an art and community centre in the city of Chiangmai, which became known as the first performance space in Thailand, and would start international exchanges from 1994. Two years later, in 1995, Apisuk used the space as a basis for his Alive project; bringing together documentation of over seven years of communication between Apisuk and around 3,000–4,000 AIDS patients across Thailand, including letters and recordings of telephone conversations. In 1998, a video of the Alive project—featuring a conversation between Apisuk and one of the patients—was selected for the Biennale of Sydney, and in 1999 Apisuk was invited as one of the speakers for the third Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. By that time, Asiatopia had grown to become a well-known international performance art festival amongst the global performance art scene, as well as the contemporary art scene in Thailand; where it became praised for its focus on performance art across Southeast Asia. In 2008, Asiatopia celebrated its tenth anniversary with a five-week long festival in Bangkok. The festival featured over 108 performance artists and performance groups from around the world.

Clearly, the sheer scope of the tenth anniversary of Asiatopia in it itself provides sufficient art historical evidence of the important development of performance art in Asia during the past twenty years. Yet, even more important than looking at the sheer scale of participants in this festival, is the way in which a performance art festival like Asiatopia provides important links to the contemporary art world in and beyond Thailand. This can also be seen in the way that the tenth anniversary of Asiatopia coincided with the opening of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre.

At the same time, one can draw attention to the lack of attention towards these performance art festivals by the broader contemporary art community.8 Clearly questions will need to be raised on the profundity of knowledge amongst many members of the art world who have developed an interest in the development of contemporary art in Asia, but rarely pay attention to the development of performance art festivals in their work. Besides looking at the important role that these festivals have in the overall development of contemporary art in Asia, by generating exchanges between a large number of trans-national and international artists and other festival organisers, the festivals also provide clear evidence of the imperative role performance art and performance art festivals have in activating important social and cultural experiences of contemporary art. These include looking at ways performance art and performance art festivals often generate important contact between contemporary art with socio-political activism and community-engagement in Asia.

Therefore, one would expect discourses of contemporary art—and particularly those focusing on the important role of relational aesthetics—to take special notice of the significant development of these performance art festivals in Asia. Nevertheless, there continues to be a lot of disregard of the development of performance art. That is, unless performance art is presented in ways that can be easily marketed.

Performance can either be marketed through representations in galleries and museums as performance photography, performance video, or even performance painting. These practices would extend the remediation of performance into other, more tangible, better saleable objects; yet often feature a general deficiency in the prerequisite of there having been a performance—hence showing a general lack of understanding of performance art.9 Marketability of performance also becomes apparent when artists consign themselves to putting on special presentations of their performances. These include many performances that are staged during exhibition openings, and those that are staged at cocktail parties and art fair openings. During such events performance can easily be turned into a demonstration, or a mere showcase for the art world and its public entourage.

In both these cases the important role of performance art and performance art festivals in Asia becomes challenged by a lack of funding as well as a lack of understanding. Instead of funding being directed towards stimulating the actual practice of contemporary art, the transition of performance to the art institutions again shows how the majority of the art world is dependent for its survival on the basis of its own marketability of art—either in terms of producing collectable works of art, or in terms of marketing publicity around the so-called public role and public experience of performance art, as well as live art.

Here, one can also identify significant challenges in terms of the development of a proper discourse surrounding the historical development of performance art and its role in generating cultural experiences of contemporary art, particularly in Asia. Some level of understanding about the historical development of performance art in Asia would provide the necessary background to those who are interested in its multiple practices, but who often still lack the experience to work with performance artists in generating new incentives towards promoting their work.

Essentially this includes providing new ways and new discourses with which to consider how contemporary art and performance art-link together in generating intricate ways of producing art into action and action into art. This includes examining how a number of artists, both in and beyond Asia, have to considered important new ways of generating cultural experiences of contemporary art through performance and performance festivals. Essentially these show how significant aspects of contemporary art have been activated through performance art and visa versa. Without proper awareness of its imperative role in contemporary art, adequate funding of performance art and performance art festivals will always be difficult.

Art into Action

Challenges surrounding the general lack of understanding and subsequent funding of performance art already started to have an impact on the survival rate of performance art festivals in Asia—particularly of festivals that move beyond the organising of a public showcasing of performance art, and instead aim to develop complex, societal-based events that link performance art to socio-political activism and community engagement.

Here it is important to raise attention to performance art festivals that extend the conventional format surrounding the presentation of performance art in public and private spaces, towards developing more complex links between the cultural experiences of contemporary performance art with traditional performance practices. These include festivals that extend cultural experiences of performance art in direct contact with local communities, including by exploring the impact of urbanisation and consumerism on community structures and community experiences in Asia.

Between 2005 and 2008 the Perfurbance festival in and around Jogjakarta in Indonesia provided a clear example of the important extension of performance art festivals into the public domain. Performance was founded by the Jogjakarta-based artist Iwan Wijono, who together with Arahmaiani and a group of performance artists in Jogjakarta had founded the artist collective Performance Klub. Perfurbance was developed with the idea to organise a festival that would explore the complex relationship between performance art and social activism inside the context of the urban environment – hence, the title of the festival, which brings together "performance" and the "urban."  Wijono had moved from Solo to Jogjakarta in the early 1990s, when he enrolled in the Painting Department of the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI). Soon he became involved in the student movement, and through this involvement he started to question the value of painting as a medium of expression, since it had become so much related to the art market in Indonesia. Starting in the mid-1990s, Wijono began to stage performances around the streets of Jogjakarta, often marked by highly political connotations.  In the following years, Wijono also became increasingly aware of the aesthetic power of performance in relation to the public environment. This generated awareness of the way performance art can essentially be staged anywhere and any time, without being restricted by exhibition spaces, professional audiences, or the timing of an artistic gesture generated through performance. These notions would inform the Perfurbance festival, as a festival that focuses on the important relations between social and cultural experiences of performance and the environment, marked by both local and global issues that are part of everyday life amongst urban and sub-urban communities in Indonesia.  

The first Perfurbance festival in 2005 investigated the impact of urbanisation on society, including issues of uncontrolled population growth, pollution of the urban environment, and threats to local community traditions due to cultural shifts in the urban environment. It featured a large number of local performance artists who staged their performances along one of the main arteries in Jogjakarta, Malioboro Street, as well as at the Pasar Kembang prostitution area, various government buildings, and inside a number of shopping malls. The second Perfurbance festival in 2006 further explored the relation between commercialism and urban societies. Again the festival featured a great number of performances by local artists that were staged along Malioboro Street, as well as inside one of the major shopping districts of Jogjakarta.10

In 2007, the third Perfurbance grew to become a major international event, featuring forty-four performance artists from eleven different countries. This time, the festival was held at the Gemblangan Village, several kilometres outside Jogjakarta. A year before, in May 2006, the village had become one of the worst hit areas of the earthquake that struck the entire region around Jogjakarta.11 

The third Perfurbance festival invited artists to live with the people of the Gemblangan Village for the entire duration of the festival. They were invited to conduct their performances within the context of the community, who also staged some of their traditional performances, including music, theatre, dance, and ritual performances. As a result, the festival not only aimed to provide an investigation of the impact of the earthquake, but also explored issues surrounding the encroachment of the urban environment onto the village community, which had traditionally been based on agriculture, but in recent years has seen a growing amount of modern industries emerge, with more and more community members working as labourers.   

In 2008, the Perfurbance festival culminated with another elaborate festival including the participation of a group of villages on the foot of Mount Merapi—the volcano located on the border between Central Java and Jogjakarta. Under the title "Global Warming! – Global Warning!!," Perfurbance #4 featured more than seventy performance artists and collectives that worked with the organisers and members of local communities around Mount Merapi in exploring the impact of global warming on the natural environment and on urban and rural communities in Indonesia.12

Besides Perfurbance, other important festivals in Asia that extend the format of the conventional performance art festival into thinking through new ways of extending the cultural experience of contemporary art through performance, include the Tupada Action & Media Art (TAMA) festival in Manila, the Philippines that was founded in 2002 during a meeting by a group of young artists following collaborative performance actions by the New World Disorder. One of the artists included in the meeting was Ronaldo Ruiz, who until today continues to be involved in TAMA. During the 1990s Ruiz also became interested in performance art, and soon after began to explore the relations between performance and ritual practices by local communities in the Philippines.

From 1999, Ruiz would also be invited to several international performance and new media festivals; including the 1999 Perspecta in Sydney, where he conducted a performance with Yuan Mor’O Ocampo, who had founded the Philippine International Performance Art Festival (PIPAF) in 1999. In 2001, Ruiz further took part in the eighth edition of NIPAF in Japan. These international contacts became another incentive for the festival to become increasingly noticed internationally. At the same time, the festival maintains a close link to the city of Manila. "Tupada" in title of the festival refers "cockfighting," where the performances of the Tupada Action & Media Art Festival were first held on Sundays at the Rizal Park in the centre of Manila without permission of the park managers, referencing to the similar status of the illegal cockfighting events that the artists witnessed also took place in the park on Sundays.13 Important for the overall concept of the festival becomes its exploring of links between public action, public space and public engagement.

From 2004, TAMA grew into an international performance event, drawing attention from a large number of performance artists, and particularly by a large number of artists from across Southeast Asia. In February 2010, the seventh edition of TAMA was held in collaboration with The National Commission for Culture and the Arts in the Philippines and became part of the Philippine National Arts Month.14

As the previous examples of both Asiatopia and the Tupada Art & Media Festival show, at least some developments can be identified in terms of the endorsement of performance art and performance art festivals by national art councils in some Asian countries. Here one can also look at the important work done by performance artists  in Singapore. In particular the work of Lee Wen, who has been working with an important group of performance artists in Singapore, in developing Future of Imagination (FOI)—a biennial performance art festival that was founded in 2003.

The founding of FOI followed a nine-year ban on public funding of performance art in Singapore, which was imposed after a 1994 performance by Joseph Ng involving the artist cutting off his some of his pubic hair with his back facing the audience during a public performance in a shopping mall.15 The opening of the first FOI festival at the Substation contemporary art space in Singapore, which at the time was headed by Lee Weng Choy, marked the first time that a performance event received support from the National Arts Council, following the nine-year public ban on performance art.

FOI was founded on the idea of setting up a platform for artists to perform their work in direct contact with the audience; exploring notions of site-specificity, community engagement, art production in local and global contexts, and of process-based art in relation to the public environment. Starting in 2004 with FOI#2 at Sculpture Square, the festival became an international event, featuring twenty-one artists from thirteen different countries, and was named amongst the ten most important art events in Singapore by the National Arts Council.   

Two years later, in 2006, FOI#3 was held at the Substation and the Singapore Art Museum. This time, the emphasis was on providing a sustainable platform for the promotion of performance practices in Singapore that would lead performance art to be recognised as a legitimate art form. Hence, further collaboration was made with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in providing a series of workshops and seminars on performance art. FOI#3 also connected itself to two other performance art festivals: Satu Kali in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the first edition of the Fetter Fields performance art festival in Singapore, featuring a broad range of Singapore-based performance artists producing a series of works exploring public spaces and alternative sites in creating site-specific performance.

In April 2010, FOI #6 was again held at Sculpture Square and this time hosted by Black Market International—a performance collective that was founded in 1985 by a group of artists in Germany (including Boris Nieslony and Jürgen Fritz) and over the past twenty-six years has become known for organising durational performances that generate open collaboration between participating performance artists who perform in coexistence to each other.16 After Singapore Black Market moved to Indonesia, to take part in the Performance Art Laboratory Platform (PALA), and annual performance laboratory held in Bali in 2007, but in 2010 was moved to Solo for special two-day performance event, titled "Undisclosed Territory #4."17 Following FOI#6 Lee Wen started a new platform performance art in Singapore, titled Rooted in the Ephemeral Speak (R.I.T.E.S.), focused around monthly performance art presentations.18

Both FOI and R.I.T.E.S. show that performance art festivals in Asia can evolve over time; both at the level of organising intricate platforms that generate public awareness and public involvement with performance art, and by generating incentives to challenge the conventional performance art festival format—both through hosting long-standing collaborative and durational performance events, as well as in varying the frequency and overall context of the performance festival. As such, organisers of these festivals provide an encompassing infrastructure for the development of discourses and practices of performance art.

Here it becomes again important to draw at important historical extensions to the development of performance art in Asia, which becomes linked to important artists collectives, as well as to artists thinking through ways of combining artistic practices with socio-political activism, and a strong sense of community engagement. In places where the development of performance art and performance art festivals becomes further linked to important developments in alternative theatre and dance, linked to socio-political activism—performance art festivals also provide an extension to the broader performance community.

This can be seen in China, where the Beijing-based dance-theatre company Living Dance Studio has provided an important extension to the contemporary art scene in China, as well in providing a significant role in linking arts practices to community engagement and community development. Living Dance Studio was founded by the documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang and his wife, the contemporary dancer Wen Hui in 1994, and is currently part of an elaborate artistic production company, Caocangdi Workstation.19

Action into Art

Historically, Hong Kong has also provided an important platform for the development of performance art and performance art festivals—including those that provide significant links to Mainland China. Here one can look at the important role of Kwok Mang-ho (a.k.a. the Frog King), who since 1967 has been producing a great number of performances across the world.20 In 1979, Kwok further visited Beijing, where he staged a series of happenings, while participating in an exhibition at the Central Art & Craft Institute. Another important figure in Hong Kong is the writer, playwright, theatre producer, and present-day Chief Executive of the Centre for Community Cultural Development (CCCD), Mok Chiu-yu.

In 1990, Mok Chiu-yu, together with J. Frank Harrison co-edited an important collection of writings and documents on the Beijing Spring and Democracy Movement in China, titled Voices From Tiananmen Square.21 Since 1989, Hong Kong-based performance artists have also been staging performances to commemorate the 1989 Democracy Movement, which are held each year on June 4th, the date of the final military crackdown of the student movement at Tiananmen Square. These performances include those by San Mu/Chen Shisen, a prominent performance artist , based in Hong Kong, who also became closely involved with the founding of the Hong Kong On the Move Performance Art Festival.22

The Hong Kong On the Move Performance Art Festival was founded in 2005 by Mok Chiu-yu together with Ko Siu-lan. In the first year, two events were organised. The first was a one-day live performance meeting by artists from Hong Kong, held in June at the Para/Site Art Space.23 During the festival a forum on Chinese performance art accompanied live performances, featuring presentations on performance art in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  

Six month later, in December 2005, a group of sixteen performance artists from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand, gathered together for a week-long public performance art festival that coincided with the World Trade Organisation Meeting (WTO) in Hong Kong. The festival was aimed to join forces with protest marches against the WTO Meeting, and to explore links between social activism and public performance art. The basis for this exploration must also be related to the professional background of the two organisers, Mok Chiu-yu and Ko Siu-lan; both of whom have been long-term social activists, working on a number of humanitarian projects in Hong Kong and Mainland China.  

The next festival was held in June 2006 at the Para/Site Art Space and a pedestrian walkway in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. It featured nine performance artists, including six from Hong Kong and three from overseas, who staged a series of performances to commemorate the seventeenth anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown of student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The festival was accompanied by a workshop on performance art and social-political action, conducted by Arahmaini from Indonesia.  

In December 2006, the fourth Hong On the Move Kong Performance Art Festival was organised at various sites across Hong Kong. It featured live performance practices by thirteen Hong Kong-based performance artists, and was accompanied by two professional workshops, one on performance strategies and one on critical perspectives, as well as a public forum on performance art festivals. In 2007, the Hong Kong Performance Art Festival further collaborated with the fifth Dadao Live Art Festival in organising a two-day performance event at the Queen’s Pier and Osage Open in Kowloon, featuring thirty-one artists from thirteen different countries, many of whom chose to produce durational performances.24

To this day the Hong Kong On the Move Festival provides an important platform for performance art in and beyond Hong Kong. What is also significant is the way in which documentation of the festival has been collected through organisations such as Asia Art Archive, which further holds a collection of performance art across Asia.

This year, in October 2010, Hong Kong will also be the location of a five-day symposium on performance art, titled "Action Script—Symposium on Performance Art Practice and Documentation in Asia" at the Hong Kong Arts Centre and co-presented by Asia Art Archive (AAA) and the Centre for Community Cultural Development (CCCD).

The symposium will provide another incentive towards drawing attention to the important role of performance art in Asia, particularly during the course of the past twenty years—something that this essay has also aimed to provide attention to by focusing on the development of performance art festivals in Asia, which have also provided significant platforms for generating a broad range of practices and debates that situate themselves within an important redefining of previously conceived notions around both the role of art and of performance – including their extensions into culture, society, and everyday life.

Here it also becomes important to further examine the real public value and communal utility of art in relation to performance – where further awareness of the role of performance art in Asia becomes extended into careful analysis of the durable role of social-driven practice, collective engagement, public interaction, and the imperative role of art in relation to culture, society, and everyday life—which it has been argued will involve examining the cultural experiences surrounding art "after" performance art in Asia. 



Thomas J. Berghuis is a lecturer in Asian Art at the Department of Art History & Film Studies, University of Sydney, Australia and author of Performance Art in China, published in 2006 with Timezone 8 in Hong Kong. He is currently working on a research project examining the development of Performance Art in Asia.




1. Arthur C. Danto, Art after the End of Art: Contemporary Art and the Pale of History, The A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts, 1995, Bollingen Series XXXV: 44 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1997).

2. In reference to Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthétique Rélationnel [1996]. First published in English translation as Relational Aesthetics translated by Simon Pleasance and Fronza Woods with the participation of Mathieu Copeland, France, Les presses du réel, 2002.

3. Here one can re-examine the work of Pierre Bourdieu, and particular his study with Alain Darbel and Dominique Schnapper, The love of art: European art museums and their public, Translated from French by Caroline Beattie and Nick Merriman, Cambridge, UK : Polity Press, 1991.

4. Often the role of Richard Schechner is being emphasised, as one of the founders of performance studies – both through his practice and through his many writings on performance, as well as in his role as one of the founders of the Performance Studies Department at the Tish School of the Arts at New York University. For further reference, see: Richard Schechner, Essays on Performance Theory, 1970-1976 (New York: Drama Books Specialists, 1977); Richard Schechner, Performance Theory (New York: Routledge, 1988); and Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Introduction (London and New York: Routledge, 2002).

5. Most prominent are the studies by RoseLee Goldberg, Performance: Live Art, 1909 to the Present (London: Thames and Hudson, 1979); and RoseLee Goldberg, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1988). The latter study is essentially an extension to the 1979 publication. Besides these early studies by RoseLee Goldberg, other important introductions to practices and discourses of performance art include: Adrian Henri, Environments and Happenings (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974); A.A. Bronson, and Peggy Gale, eds., Performance by Artists (Toronto: Webcom, Scarborough, August 1979); Gregory Battcock and Robert Nickas, eds., The Art of Performance: A Critical Anthology (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1984). 

6. Here one can compare the work of Peggy Phelan to that of Philip Auslander, and also look at the discourses surrounding live art coming from its important use in the United Kingdom. For further reference, see in particular Peggy Phelan, Unmarked; The Politics of Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 1993); Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane, eds., The Ends of Performance (New York: New York University Press); Philip Auslander, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture (London and New York: Routledge); and Adrian Heathfield, ed., Live: Art and Performance (London: Tate Publications, 2004). 

7. These notions were also addressed in my recent study of performance art in China. For further reference, see: Thomas J. Berghuis, Performance Art in China (Hong Kong: Timezone 8, 2006).

8. Here one can look at the way in which leading art magazines rarely give attention to the important role of performance art festivals in Asia, including art magazines that pay specific attention to the development of contemporary art in Asia. A database check on the back-issues of Art Asia Pacific magazine provides no evidence of any article ever having been written on performance art festivals in Asia – not even on such long-running festivals as Asiatopia (currently running for 12 years) or the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (currently running for 17 years). Overall the only exception to what seems to be general disregard of performance art festivals in Asia is Real Time art magazine, published in Australia and freely distributed in both print, as well as online. For further reference, see:

9. In recent years there have been many examples of artists and artworks that override any type of more serious attempt in extending the remediation of performance in different media, where the art market in particular seems to prefer works that are more or less operating at the level of what can be described as ‘advertisement-performance’; rather than by looking at artists whose work still contain an inherent working process through performance. It would be inadequate to single out one example in this essay, the focus of which is on performance art festivals, but one can clearly see many of these types of ‘advertisement performance’ works in China, where performance art sometimes gravitates towards, or mirrors as a mere gizmo; or where performance becomes merely a technical device to represent the clairvoyant artist sage amidst some beautiful sceneries in works that can be commissioned through studio-based photography, painting, or as bronze sculpture.

10. For further reference on Perfurbance #2, see the report by Jan Cornell, ‘Fire and blood – Indonesian performance art’ in Real Time, No. 73, online at (accessed August 2010).

11. For further reference on Perfurbance #3, see:; as well as the report by Jan Cornell, ‘Art becomes village becomes art’ in Real Time, No. 79, online at: (accessed August 2010).

12. For further reference, see: (accessed in August 2010).

13. Thanks to Mideo Cruz for drawing my attention to these details.

14. For further reference, see: (accessed in August 2010).

15. The performance was part of a series of controversies in Singapore over performance art. For a detailed report on this, see: Sanjay Krishnan, Sharaad Kuttan, Lee Weng Choy, Leon Perera and Jimmy Yap, eds., Looking at Culture (Singapore: Chung Printing, 1996).

16. For further information on FOI#6, see:, which also includes further references on Black Market, including a link to an essay by Michael LaChance, ’15 Principles of Black Market International’ published on the Performance Art Research Archive of the German performance artist Helge Meyer, see: Further information on Black Market can also be found on the Art Service Association web-site by Boris Nieslony, see: (all sites accessed in August 2010).

17. For further information on PALA, see:
18. For further information, see: (accessed in August 2010).

19. For further reference, see: (accessed August 2010). In my study of performance art in China, Living Dance Studio, also became used as an example of the important extension of performance art in China, including by highlighting their collaborations with visual artists. For further reference, see: Berghuis, Performance Art in China (1996), Chapter 5. ‘Performance in New Media’, 128-150

20. For further reference to Kwok Mang Ho, see: (accessed August 2010)

21. See: Mok Chiu Yu and J. Frank Harrison, Voices From Tiananmen Square: Beijing Spring and the Democracy Movement (Montreal and New York: Black Rose Books, 1990).

22. For a more detailed report on the historical development of performance art in Hong Kong, see the Report on the Hong Kong performance art research project by the Asia Art Archive researcher for Hong Kong and performance artist, Wen Yau, titled ‘An Opportunity or A Risk?: When  performance art becomes part of art history’, (accessed August 2010).

23. For further reference, see: (accessed August 2010). For an analysis of the work of Para/Site Art Space, particularly in relation to installation art up to 2000, see: David Clarke, ‘Para/Site: Installation and Cultural Identity in Hong Kong’ in Third Text, 14: 50 (Spring 2000), 73-86.

24. For further reference, see:




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