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Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Young British Independence

Wladyslaw Kazmierczak, 2012-01-24

During the turbulent 1960s era in USA the activist Jack Weinberg said to journalists: "We don't trust anybody over 30. What means: that nobody is pulling our strings."

This famous political statement ideally suits the development of performance art in the UK and to a certain extent – in the whole world. After years of observing the process of educating performers in various schools or workshops it may be said, that the results of these activities are appalling. We do not know who has been an outstanding student of Abramović, Beuys, Brisley, MacLennan, Stitt, Hunter, Layzell, Arsem, Tajber, Ruller, Nieslony or Deimling. We are not expecting any threat towards established art from the side-lines of these brilliant artists; and it may also be said that another, very harmful category to emerge is a large number of 'fake performers' with professor titles, who aspire to be a ‘CV-performer’ in order to acquire immediate profits and status in their teaching careers.

Young performance artists do not have a chance to gather experience during occasional private meetings or accidental performers' contacts, and when they trace the art of performance artists from an older generation the result is always ambivalent emotionally and intellectually – to quote Weinberg - it meets distrust. The pulsating, changeable, most often chaotic structure of performance art festivals in the world instead of opening the scenes to present their work, rather ignores young performers and manipulates them, because of their lack of experience and history. We know exactly that performance art may not receive a support from the general art market, and it receives just a little sponsorship from foundations and art institutions.

What may one do in such a situation? Create one's own environment that would be friendly for performance art; create an open, free space for experimental art - it may be a permanent place, or changeable and only open for a few hours. A British sensation of the last two years has become two independent initiatives of young performance artists: O U I Performance in York and ]p e r f o r m a n c e space [ in London. Somehow to contradict a statement from the first sentence, both places do not avoid older performers and vice versa. Youth is not a striking or a repulsive feature.

It is interesting, that these places are similar to each other not in the sense of space, but in their program. They are absolutely necessary for young performers in order for the art to happen, and not to be merely simulated. Regardless of the period that marks the beginning of a performance artist’s career, new performers follow a similar path of initiation, starting from simple gestures, actions, modest and clear structures similar to the performance art of the 60s and 70s. And it is not a question of quotations or easy plagiarism, but a process of personal transformation that will never leave an artist. Turbulences of that process are the most interesting aspect of the changes in awareness, and most often they mean departing from a classical, marketable and material art form. This period is very important for a performance artist, because it may lead to either rejecting performance art or to persistently acknowledge it as a crucial form of one's own expression. It all depends if a series of completed performances was exciting enough – both emotionally and intellectually for the artist and the audience. If distrust, rebellion and fascination with the performer’s past are strong enough and tied to one’s own intuition, then creative reaction towards new experiences creates a point where the independent work of a performance artist begins.

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