The Price of Process: Bodies, Value, and Performance

Mentor: Dr. Joseph Lucchesi


Abstract: In performance and process art bodily actions, appearances, and functions become the mediums for conceptual manifestation. By using the body in a process or performance piece, the social history of an individual’s gender and the functional actions of their body becomes ensnared in the artistic expression. Performance and process art are ephemeral, and artists at times rely on photograph, video, and objects to exhibit and document their artwork. Using the body in ephemeral work creates a complex relationship between the marketability of artwork and the monetary needs of artists.

By transforming a process work into a 2D image artists’ conceptual intentions often become ambiguous. Three contemporary process artists, David Hammons, Janine Antoni, and Ann Hamilton create art centered on their bodies. The market status of each artist is discussed in relation to producing and selling photography and objects from the process. The use of their bodies is discussed in relation to objectification, gender stereotypes, and market value. Each artist’s market success is analyzed in relation to artistic expressions of gender, to explore what gendered actions are gaining monetary value. This is coupled with a studio project that addresses how regulated and un-regulated spaces, locally found materials, and collaboration can become a means to create enhanced opportunities for artistic discourse and input from the local community. The studio portion addresses how the complex nature of process-oriented studio work allows for a myriad of social ramifications, including unavoidable moments of conceptual compromise, but also creates opportunities to create collaborative art experiences.