American Art Embodied: Body-Centered Practices in US Art since the 1950s – Terra Foundation Seminar 2023

Posted on September 8, 2023

This course examines the emergence of performance art as one of the most influential forms of expression in American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It traverses a wide variety of practices involving the use of artists’ bodies: from protest actions and happenings to body prints, to movement exercises and collaborative, choreographed spectacles. Works examined in the module may also be associated with categories such as conceptual art, land art, video art, and social practice. While exploring the various ways in which artists mobilized their bodies as vehicles for making art, students will learn how body-centered practices came to be displayed in museums, consumed, and commodified. To this end, the course covers the subject of mediation and mediatization of ephemeral, embodied modes of artistic expression, as well as discussing audience reactions and participation. Equally, it examines the ways in which performances can be restaged and reinterpreted. Students will familiarize themselves with key theoretical frameworks for discussing performance art and its historicization, while engaging in debates on critical issues—such as war, exploitation, gender identity—raised via embodied artistic practice. Throughout the course, we will pay special attention to the convergence of performance art and activism, studying the impact of US-based grassroots organizations and political movements on body art.

  • When : each Thirsday at 5:30 pm
  • Where : Fondation Terra, 121 rue de Lille, Paris

Preliminary bibliography:

  • Amelia Jones and Adrian Heathfield, eds. Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History. Bristol: Intellect Books, 2012.
  • Joan Kee. Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post-Sixties America. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019.
  • André Lepecki. Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement. New York and London: Routledge, 2006.
  • Peggy Phelan, ed. Live Art in LA: Performance in Southern California, 1970-1983. New York: Routledge, 2012.
  • Shannon Jackson. Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics. New York: Routledge, 2011.
  • Rebecca Schneider. Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2011.


Dr Martyna Ewa Majewska
Terra Foundation Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Fellow in Paris