Introduction to Art Making- Motion and Time Based:
A question of the body and its reflections as gesture.


“...material action is painting that has spread beyond the picture surface. The human body, a laid table or a room becomes the picture surface. Time is added to the dimension of the body and space.”


-  "Material Action Manifesto," Otto Mühl, 1964

Winter 2015
When: Tuesday: 5:00 p.m. to 6:50 p.m.
Where: CENTR 115

Professor: Ricardo Dominguez
Office Hour: Tuesday. 11:00 a.m. to Noon.
Room: VAF 551 (2nd Fl. Visual Art Facility)

The body-as-gesture has a long history as a site of aesthetic experimentation and reflection. Art-as-gesture has almost always been anchored to the body, the body in time, the body in space and the leftovers of the body This class will focus on the history of these bodies-as-gestures in performance art. An additional objective for the course will be a focus on the question of documentation in order to understand its relationship to performance as an active frame/framing of reflection.

We will look at modernist, contemporary and post-contemporary, contemporary work by Chris Burden, Ulay and Abramovic, Allen Kaprow, Vito Acconci, Coco Fusco, Faith Wilding, Anne Hamilton, William Pope L., Tehching Hsieh, Revered Billy, Nao Bustamante, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman, Adrian Piper, Sophie Calle, Patty Chang, James Luna, and the work of many other body artists/performance artists.

Students will develop 1 performance action a week, for 5 weeks, for a total of 5 gestures/actions (during the first part of the class), individually or in collaboration with other students. The class will view and discuss each students performance documentation with the specific Teaching Assistant Block they are assigned to for the quarter. Students will also be expected to write an 8 PAGE FINAL PAPER (*MLA - Manual of Style* - on a performance artist, performance art, or the performance genre. The paper should compare and contrast the above with your own gestures.

Course Requirements:

1) 5 performance gestures (10% each): You will be required to construct a performance gesture and document the gesture. All gestures will be done beyond UCSD and La Jolla, CA.

2) Final Paper (8 Pages) (30%): In the Final Paper students will frame the work they have made in class by comparing and contrasting it with the work of Performance Artist, theme or genre covered in class. (MLA).


3) *Students who have to miss any classes due to an emergency (with documentation) will be able to do an extra Gesture to make up unexcused absences. Note that social events such as weddings, anniversaries, quinceaneras or barmitzvahs, though important, are not considered emergencies.

4) Attendance and participation (20%): TA's will be taking attendance every time our class meets. Aside from counting toward your overall grade, attendance and participation will be crucial. Students who do not show up to class and are unaware of the material and discussions covered in lecture are not likely to obtain a passing grade.

Course Website:

This website is a crucial component of this course. The site will include the syllabus and links for review. I strongly urge you to review the Class Site on a weekly basis.

Grading Scale:
100-97 = A+
93-96 = A
90-92 = A-
89-87 = B+
86-93 = B
82-80 = B-
79-77 = C+
76-73 = C
72-70 = C-
69-67 = D+
66-63 = D
62-60 = D-
59 and below = F


Commitment and Risk
Creativity in Presentation
A General Understanding of Performance Art/Art History
Application of Critical Connections in Each of Your Performances and in your Class Essay



Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present by Arthur Danto, Chrissie Iles, Klaus Biesenbach and Marina Abramovic
Performa - New Visual Art Performance by RoseLee Goldberg
Art and Performance: Live (TATE U.K)
Out of Actions (LA MoCA)
Outside the Frame: Performance and the Object (Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art)
Performance Art (edited by Roselee Goldberg)
Body and the East: Form the 60s to the Present, (Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia)


Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics, Shannon Jackson
So Much Wasted: Hunger, Performance, and the Morbidity of Resistance (Perverse Modernities), Patrick Anderson
Performance Art from Futurism to the Present, Roselee Goldberg
Exercises for Rebel Artists: Radical Performance Pedagogy by Guillermo Gomez-Pena and Roberto Sifuentes
Ethno-Techno; Writings on Performance, Activism and Pedagogy, G. Gomez-Pena
The Twentieth Century Performance Reader, eds. Michael Huley and Noel Witts
Performance, Marvin Carlson
Contract with the Skin, Kathy Odell
Performing the Body, Amelia Jones
The Explicit Body of Performance, Rebecca Schneider
Happenings and Other Arts, ed Mary Ellen Sandford
Unmarked, Peggy Phelan
Acting Act: Feminist Performances, eds. Lynda Hart and Peggy Phelan
Let's Get it On: The Politics of Black Performance, ed. Catherine Ugwu
Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas, ed. Coco Fusco
Greenwich Village 1963, Sally Banes
The Blurring of Art and Life, Alan Kaprow
Imaging Her Erotics, Carolee Schneeman
The Citizen Artist: An Anthology from High Performance Magazine
Liveness, Philip Auslander
Dada Performance, ed. Mel Gordon
Futurist Performance, eds. Michael Kirby

CLASS ONE - Jan 6th - Introduction to the Class: The W(hole) Body and its Rituals

Opening discussion on the nature of the class, what will be expected from each of you and the grading process? An explanation about the expectations, process, and documentation of your 5 gestures for this class.

Carolee Schneemann on "Interior Scroll" gesture:


Breaking the Frame: A Documentary about Carolee Schneemann:


Viennese Actionism:

Viennese Actionist Films:


Pocha Nostra:


La Pocha Nostra: The Insurrected Body (Video):


Gesture One:

Choose a site where you can engage in a performance activity in a Public Space for at least 2 continuous hours. You can move for this exercise or be still. If you move, don't leave the site you have chosen. Choose and develop a means of recording your actions/inaction AND the events or non-eventfulness around you. Try to be as aware as possible of the smallest of changes in your own body, mind and immediate environment. Do not just wait for something really noticeable to happen. Do not use any cameras or electronic recording devices. Limit yourself to what you can commit to memory, write down or otherwise record with some part of your body. Once you have completed your action, chronicle the experience in writing if you have not already written it down. Keep in mind that while writing is PERMITTED, it is not the ONLY way to make a record of actions, so consider other means too!

BRING DOCUMENTATION TO CLASS. Each TA Block will review and discuss everyone's performance and non-traditional documentation.

CLASS TWO: Jan 13th – Public space and Public Performance

“Theory of the Derive” by Guy Debord:

Teching Hsieh One Year Performance 1980 - 1981 (Time Piece):

L'Hotel by Sophie Calle:
In 1981, Sophie Calle spent three weeks working as chambermaid in a hotel in Venice. This allowed her to spy on the guests:

Tompkins Square Park Crawl by William Pope.L:

Barbie Liberation Organization:


Crowd Control by Tania Bruguera

Gesture Two:

Using any type of camera, to record only segments of your body doing the same performance you did last week. BRING DOCUMENTATION TO CLASS. Each TA Block will review and discuss everyone’s work.

CLASS THREE: Jan 20th – Ephemeral Gestures:


Gestures that employ short-lived materials, a significant aspect of the practice of many modern and contemporary artists who reject more traditional media, such as oil paint, marble, and bronze, which were chosen for their ability to stand the test of time.


Fountain (1917) by Marcel Duchamp:


Cut Piece (1965) by Yoko Ono


Jessica Stockholder's site-specific interventions and autonomous floor and wall pieces: - t=16


Lick and Lather by Janine Antoni


Allan Kaprow Yard, Reinvented by William Pope L



Using any type of camera record a performance of your making something.
Many performances involve making, from concrete objects to ephemeral or immaterial things, to traces of actions, to records of actions, to waste products resulting from actions. Choose one of these approaches and develop a performance that is organized around the act of making.

BRING DOCUMENTATION TO CLASS. Each TA Block will review and discuss everyone’s work.

CLASS FOUR: Jan 27th - Photographs as Gestures, Gestures for Photographs

May 2011 - 120 Model Tableau Vivant - Skylight One Hanson from Sarah Small's Tableau Vivant:

Thoughts on the Work of Hannah Wilke

Cindy Sherman:

Mariko Mori

Nikki S. Lee - images

Photographer Nikki S. Lee Can Turn Into Anyone


Most of the history of performance actually is known through photographs. Many performance artists rejected the use of photographic documentation in the 50s and 60s, and also elaborated a critique of the objectification of performance through photography. On the other hand, many artists create performances exclusively for the camera. For this session, you should choose to create one of two kinds of performance: either a performance that incorporates the process of photographing the artist into the act itself (other students can act as photographers) or a performance that is presented as a photograph or series of photographs, or a performance that uses the photograph against the photograph as a performance and then photograph it.

BRING DOCUMENTATION TO CLASS. Each TA Block will review and discuss everyone’s work.

CLASS FIVE: Feb. 3 - Naked/Nude Gesture

Seedbed by Vito Acconci (1972)

November 10, 2005: Marina Abramovic re-performing: Vito Acconci, Seedbed, Found at 00:09:42 (Time into video):

Post-Porn Performance Art by Annie Sprinkle:

SEXECOLOGY by Annie Sprinkle & Elizabeth Stephens:

"I'm An Ass Man” by Karen Finley:

Frankly Speaking by Frank Moore:

La Ribot:


For this session use any type of camera to create a performance of your naked/nude self. Use the camera as a confession machine or as a disciplinary machine. You could tell us secrets, show us your tattoos or sit naked eating lunch. Just be naked! Which does not mean that you have to be nude. One can be over dressed and still completely naked and raw.

BRING DOCUMENTATION TO CLASS. Each TA Block will review and discuss everyone’s work.

NO CLASS - Feb 10th 

CLASS SIX: Feb. 17th  - Becoming Gender(s), Performing Gender(s)


! Women Art Revolution

Judy Chicago on Q TV

Judy Chicago

Guerrilla Girls

The Guerrilla Girls at the Feminist Future Symposium, MoMA

Digital Drag Kings

Becoming Dragon by Micha Cardenas


Gender as Performance




For this gesture use any type of camera/or documentation to create a performance of you as another gender, create; a disguise-as-drag, become a *third or forth* gender, build an object that reflects your sense of gender in a public space, become a dream gender...become another gender in public space.

CLASS SEVEN: Feb 24th – Queer/Queering Gestures










Holly Hughes from “Clit Notes”



Dyke Action Machine Interview 1998



Leigh Bowery by Charles Atlas:



Queer Technologies – “How to make a Gay Bomb”




CLASS EIGHT:  March 3rd – The Body-as-Pain Rituals



Shoot by Chris Burden (1971):


Through The Night Softly by Chris Burden (1973):


Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose (1993):


I Miss You by Franko B (1999):


Huellas by Regina José Galindo (2003):


Perra by Regina José Galindo (2009):


Estoy Viva - Regina José Galindo (Short Documentary):




CLASS NINE:  March 10th – Techno-Gestures







Elle Mehrmand

Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0:



A History of Gestures

Reading and View:

Futurist Performance

Dada Sound Poems


Linda Montano

Translated Acts: Performance Art from East Asia

Media Art Net

The Practice of Everyday Life
Michel de Certeau

Art and Advocacy

e-misferia (Latin American Performance and Politics)

Art and Commitment

New Visual Art Performance