OUT OF ACTIONS: BETWEEN PERFORMANCE AND MTHE OBJECT 1949-1979 edited by Paul Schimmel
Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art / Thames and Hudson, 1998 First edition, 405pp., 8 3/4" X 12" Softcover
This book was published on the occasion of the identically entitled exhibition that was organized in Los Angeles this year (February - May1998) and was on display in Vienna for almost three months from June on. The body of the quasi-legendary photo-documents is accompanied by lengthy essays out of which the first one, Leap Into The Void , presents a chronological survey of the 30 years' production of the widely construed 'action art'. (What is more, there is an exhaustive chronology of actions on the last pages of the book.) 'Production' means the records of the actions as well as the objects that came out of the actions (cf. the title!). Beside the production, the essay deals with the circumstances (especially the historical ones) that led to action as art form. According to this, the changes in art and in the conception of art that occured in the fifties can be traced back to the unprecedented horrors of the second world war - such as Hiroshima and the Holocaust. These devastating events threw light upon the fragility of creation and existence and, on the other hand, the primacy of the act. As a projection of all this in art was the questioning of the position of the art object (= a created object). More important than that has become the process of creation. But not as an endevour to produce something, rather as an action which evolves before an audience and which incorporates time into art.