The Taming of the Dark

written by Nada Beroš


When in 1959 Piero Manzoni canned his shit and put it on sale in an art gallery for its weight in gold; when Chris Burden had himself shot in the arm and crucified to the roof of a Volkswagen (in 1971 and 1974 respectively); when two American performance artists, at separate events, copulated with human female corpses – how did such activities come to be called art?


The question Thomas McEvilley posed in his lucid essay Art in the Dark¹ fifteen years ago, intrigues us even today. The late nineties will be remembered, among other things, for the renewed interest in the form of art practice which McEvilley analyses in the text and one which critics usually classify under the broad and imprecise term – Action Art. Over the last few years numerous theme exhibitions and individual performances at prestigious galleries and museums, on theatre stages, in informal spaces or in public areas, have, once again, placed the elusive, volatile and highly explosive artistic material – the artist’s body, in the centre of attention.