'If all the world is a stage, then each of us is a performer. Every day, we act out individual roles and take part in private and collective rituals handed down by society. In our relationships with others, we hide behind masks and assumed personae; and when we interact with the objects, spaces and environments around us, we follow established patterns of behaviour set down by history and convention, playing out performances everywhere we turn. In such a world, it is no surprise that the line between art and life is sometimes blurred.

This unique exhibition in a book presents some of the most challenging art to address the place and function of performance in the contemporary world. Arranged into themed "rooms", it reflects a wide variety of artistic attitudes and practices. Some artists present collaborators as the living, performing objects of their work, while others turn the audience into the main protagonists in the creative process. Some artists transform themselves through disguise or by altering their surroundings in order to perform a new reality, while others make everyday items into art by changing their function or context. Some artists explore the storytelling capacity of art, but others present only cryptic fragments that leave the viewer to complete the narrative. Where some question the permanence of art by producing ephemeral or short-lived pieces, others leave traces of their actions, and yet others seek to freeze time in highly dramatized tableaux or hyperrealistic sculptures. For some artists, performance offers the possibility of leaving the gallery environment altogether and enacting art in public, on the street, for everybody.

All of the artists in this book use art to puzzle out the complicated ways in which performance plays a part in our daily experiences. All of them help us understand the world in which we live.' front flap

Transcript of a group discussion on 'performance', brief artist biographies and further reading are included.
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Chapter headings
Entrance: On Performance (and Other Complications)
Room One: Inside the Box / Outside the Box
Room Two: Performing the Object
Room Three: Exchange and Transform
Room Four: Still Life / Tableaux Vivants
Room Five: Provoking the Everyday
Room Six: Traces / Oblivion
Room Seven: Narrate / Withhold
Room Eight: The Performer Is in All of Us
Way Out: Talk
Art Works: Perform
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Art Works: Perform