Realisations of performance in contemporary Greek art
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This is the first study to approach, both historically and theoretically, the emergence and development of performance art in Greece from the 1970s to the 2010s. Drawing on an interdisciplinary framework—including feminist theory, philosophy, sociology, art history, and more—the study aims to address an evident gap in histories of contemporary Greek art. The research begins with the emergence of performative artistic practices in the 1970s, in the conditions set out by the seven-year Dictatorship (1967-1974) and follows, selectively, the complex trajectory of these practices while investigating their connection with wider socio-political and economic developments. The thesis should not be read as a survey, despite being the first book-length analysis of Greek performance art in both English and Greek. The material included here has been selective (drawn out of years of field research) and yet presents, and represents, the spectrum of themes and positions making up the history of performance art in Greece. My contention is that the rise and establishment of performance art in Greece reflected both the political ferment of the time (early 1970s) and an enquiry into the possibility of flight from traditional media. The dual aim of this study is, first, to facilitate and encourage the integration of performance art in a revised Greek art history; and, second, to contribute to an expansion of performance art histories in an international context through the negotiation of hitherto unknown material synthesised in a study of adequate length. This thesis has required large-scale in situ research and overcoming the major obstacle of the absence of relevant publicly held archives. This was one reason why even an elementary linear history of performance art had been such an overwhelming task in the past; a second reason is the overall marginalisation of performance art theory in the Greek context. Through the Greek paradigm, the thesis illuminates new aspects not only of performance but also of post-performative participatory practices, engaging new conceptualisations. By identifying fundamental issues in the production, dissemination, and reception of performance art in Greece, I provide a critical analysis not only of its achievements and potential but also of its impasses and failures. My intention in undertaking this research has been to disprove the notion—implied or stated as a matter of fact in histories of contemporary Greek art—that performance art has had only a sporadic and inconsistent presence in this ‘periphery’ scene. I argue that the artists investigated in this study are conclusively part of the history of performance in the 20th and 21th centuries, thereby setting the terms and calling for further research on the subject.