The roots of performance art, according to certain authors, can be traced to the early avant-garde, yet this particular genre has fully blossomed alongside the conceptual art in the late 60s and 70s. Initially, the performative practice was rather simple and purified, and it had implied primarily the combination of various theatrical and dance techniques embedded in accordance with the concept.
Nevertheless, performance art has transformed over time and it now covers a wide array of approaches and methods.
Although it was treated as a marginalized phenomenon, this medium has become significant and respected and especially in the last decade the number of festivals devoted to it grew.
In London, for a couple of years now, an international performance art festival has been being held under the title Block Universe. This year, the fourth edition will happen with an extensive program of commissions, workshops, talks, and screenings.
Each year, the Block Universe festival is being organized in London’s leading institutions, such as the Royal Academy of Arts, Somerset House, the British Museum, and several other venues.
An independent curator and the founder of the festival, Louise O’Kelly, has managed to establish Block Universe as a significant cultural event focused on production and representation of latest innovations in the field of performance art.
As a matter of fact, she released a dense program of experimental inter-sectional pieces in order to enhance the visibility of contemporary production and build a platform for newcomers in both local and international context.
For this year's edition, the festival will be focused on examining the contemporary politics through the prism of questioning the notion of the terms community and collectivity.
Furthermore, the selected works will provide through various lens how do our relationships function in accordance with the technology, sexuality, love, and commons.
The audience will have a chance to see seven new commissions of the artists Alex Mirutziu, Gery Georgieva, Evan Ifekoya and Victoria Sin, Hanne Lippard, Last Yearz Interesting Negro/Jamila Johnson-Small, art collective They Are Here (Helen Walker and Harun Morrison) and Laura Wilson.
Since its establishment, this particular festival has managed to become recognized and listed as the most prolific one in London, if not in all of the UK. That is not a wonder due to the meticulous selection of the burgeoning international artists, the following program of artist talks, screenings and presentations, and an overall intention to enrich the artistic scene of London.
Interestingly so, Block Universe organized a symposium on the history of performance art at the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths in March prior to the announcement of the whole program, and finally, the festival will take place on various locations in London from 26 May until 3 June 2018.
Featured images: Hanne Lippard - "Midafternoonslump" performance at Coast Contemporary, 2017. Photo Maya Økland. Courtesy the artist; Last Yearz Interesting Negro / Jamila Johnson-Small - Untitled. Commissioned by Block Universe. Courtesy the artist; Nora Turato - Untitled. Courtesy of the artist. All images courtesy Block Universe.