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26-27 Μay 2009

Can performance be taught? How can its techniques and achievements be passed down from generation to generation? Through ‘teachers’ or ‘mentors’, or through powerful examples and standards? As an activity encompassing various different art forms and means of expression, there is no doubt that performance will not usually fit into the ‘classic’ structure of the art school curriculum. In other words, there is no single answer to our questions above, and the ‘teaching’ of performance may take place at schools of fine art, dance and theatre, or departments of literature and poetics. Of the many different processes, the most common, historically, has been that involving the role of a ‘teacher-mentor’, the so-called Masterclass.
In the masterclass an experienced, veteran performer presents, explains, demonstrates his own techniques and preferences. The participants in the education-demonstration ‘episodes’ will ask questions and even offer their own attempts at performances, the first samples of their own work. What is important in this encounter is to create a reciprocal exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings, and to explore the various possibilities related to the act of performance.

The 1st Performance Festival (24-30 May 2009), part of the parallel programme in the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale, invited three eminent performance artists to demonstrate their approach to their art, their strategic choices and all the various manoeuvres that have shaped their artistic careers. Leda Papaconstantinou, Boris Nieslony (Germany) and Seiji Shimoda (Japan) will inaugurate this new ‘institution’ being introduced by the State Museum of Contemporary Art.

Boris Nieslony
‘How performance entered my life’

Tuesday 26 May 2009, 12:00-13:30
Press Room – Lazariston Monastery*

Boris Nieslony has devoted all his creative energies to the dissemination and better understanding of performance art. He has been involved in performance and related art forms since 1980. He was a co-founder of the Hamburg Kunstlerhaus in 1977 and the Kleinen Ausstellungsraum in 1978, which later evolved to become Germany’s only venue for continual exhibitions of installations and performances. As an artist he has also been engaged in organizing groups and associations of performance artists. It was through these activities that the idea was born of creating a performance art network. With seven other artists he founded the international group Black Market International and the ASA performance society, both dedicated to promoting performance art. He organized the Permanent Performance Art Conference in 1995, exploring links between theory and practice in performance art, since followed by another fifteen conferences.
Nieslony began his career as a painter, photographer and musician. His work can be classed in the current of European anti-formalism, travelling via Fluxus to Situationist International and Dada. Although in some ways he appears preoccupied and influenced by conservatism, he creates ephemeral performances based on the logic of very specific conceptual and physical responses.

Seiji Shimoda
Tuesday 26 May 2009, 14:00-15:30
Press Room – Lazariston Monastery*

Seiji Shimoda is Japan’s most active performance artist, taking part in numerous festivals and events in more than twenty countries. As a schoolboy he took a lively part in various activist demonstrations and also wrote poetry – rich in imagination or dark and with the texture of dreams. It was the process of composing poetry that inspired an interest in physical expression – neither dance nor acting, but performance in the place of poetry. Later, while in Paris, he mounted numerous street performances, to earn a living, and was hailed with enthusiasm in artistic circles. On his return to Japan his activities became more sensational in nature, involving frequent use of nudity. In fact he has been arrested on several occasions for public indecency – each occasion an opportunity to do battle for the right to freedom of expression. Now a well recognized artist he uses words and poems in brief actions, while also interested in social and political themes such as nationalism and the psychology of the masses.

Leda Papaconstantinou
Wednesday 27 May 2009, 12:00-15:00
Press Room – Lazariston Monastery*

Leda Papaconstantinou has been a continuing and prominent presence in the field of the visual arts since the late 1960’s and is an example of an artist who has altered basic parameters and givens in contemporary art – both in Greece and farther afield. She studied first at the Athens School of Fine Arts, then moving on to the Loughton College of Art in London and Maidstone College of Art, K.I.A.D., also in the UK. She was the first Greek artist to engage in performance and body art, and has sustained her interest in use of the human body as means of expression from the 1970’s to the present day. Her oeuvre also features installations, paintings, video, sculpture and film – all approached through the perspective of her own personal language. Papaconstantinou’s performances are designed to raise the awareness of the spectator through references to various social groups and classes. Her work touches on the need for the individual to seek his identity within his socio-political environment, and in this context she has engaged in feminist issues and other areas involving social minorities. But it would be wrong to place her as solely a representative of ‘women’s art’. Her work is emotional, sensual, aggressive and radical, oriented to political commentary but conveyed through the use of her own body.
In the era of globalization, Leda Papaconstantinou has chosen to communicate using her own expressive language, one which transcends the usual constraints of culture and value.


- The events will be of interest principally to artists, students and graduates of schools of fine art, dance, theatre and music – but members of the general public are, of course, welcome to apply.
- Applications with a CV and statement explaining the applicant’s reasons for wishing to attend should be sent to masterclasses.performance@gmail.com by 20 May 2009. Only 10-15 places are available for each masterclass.
- For further information or clarification, contact 2310-589 140, State Museum of Contemporary Art Secretariat.

* Lazariston Monastery, 21 Kolokotroni St., Stavroupoli.

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