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Live Art






School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies

TH216 - Aspects of Theatre and Performance: Live Art and Performance

Tutor: Dr Nicolas Whybrow (




Two-hour seminar session per week, Monday 11am-1pm, Humanities Studio, Autumn Term.


Module description

Drawing on a range of international artists and performers as examples, this component of the Aspects of Theatre and Performance module considers the enormously varied practices of contemporary live art and performance from three main points of view:


  • differing explorations of time, taking into account such factors as durational time, repetition, chance, failure and real time events.
  • the uses and dynamics of space, including questions around site-specificity, situation and context, public and private space, and displacement.
  • the utilisation of bodies as sites of experimentation and/or expression.


All three of these essential components naturally interlink and overlap, so it is difficult to contemplate time, for instance, without simultaneously invoking space. Similarly, the body in performance can be said always to be occupying a space of some sort under a specific regime of time, and so on. Nevertheless, since live art and performance generally involve forms of experimentation with the elements, aesthetics and categories of performance, it is useful to make such distinctions in the first instance. In the second instance, issues such as intimacy, participation, spectatorship, activism, everyday life, chance, failure, abjection and documentation will arise as further subjects of investigation. This module component takes its lead from the immediate practices of artists and performers, though, and the following is a pool from which a selection will be singled out for particular attention during the course of the term: Marina Abramovic, Tehching Hsieh, Francis Alÿs, Sophie Calle, Lone Twin, Hayley Newman, Ontroerend Goed, Franko B, Tomoko Takahashi, Mark Dion, Roman Ondák, Tino Seghal, Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Adrian Howells and Richard Dedominici.


Learning outcomes

By the end of this module component you will have:


  • Developed an understanding of the context in which live art and performance evolved as artistic media in the late 20th and early 21st centuries


  • Grasped key concepts and ideas relating to the varied practices of contemporary live art and performance


  • Developed a critical understanding of the specific practices of a range of live art and performance practitioners



One 2,500-3,000 word essay due January 2012 (precise date to be confirmed) and a 1½-hour written exam paper in the Summer Term.