The History of Performance Art in 20 Minutes by Guillaume Désanges
Guillaume Désanges


Guillaume Désanges is a free-lance curator and art critic, co-founder of Work Method, a Paris based agency for artistic projects. Member of the editorial board of Trouble, he collaborates with the magazines Exit Express and Exit Book (Madrid). He coordinated the artistic projects of Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers (2001-2007). In 2007-2008, he was curator at Centre d’Art Contemporain La Tôlerie. From 2009-2011, he is the guest curator at centre d’art le Plateau-Frac Ile de France, Paris. Désanges teaches at Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Clermont-Ferrand.

The History of Performance Art in 20 Minutes by Guillaume Désanges

To coincide with the Performance Studies International symposium, FADO Performance Art Centre and Gallery TPW are pleased to present work by French curator and critic Guillaume Désanges.

A History of Performance in 20 Minutes is a performative lecture presenting a concise history of the representation of the body in art. The performance-lecture aims to divide the history of performance into ten gestures—appearing, receiving, holding back, escaping, aiming, falling, crying, biting, empting oneself and disappearing—all enacted and subjectively discussed. 

Accompanying the performance is Désanges’ exhibition Child’s Play (June 10–19). The work is the outcome of a workshop with seven Romanian children in 2008. The impetus for the workshop was an assertion that the history of performance art be read as a history of silence rather than discourse—a pre-linguistic history of primary gestures. Perhaps the experience of childhood is closest to this impulse in performance/body art. During the workshop, the kids replayed and interpreted more than fifty iconic performances, including gestures from Futurism and Dada to Paul McCarthy and Francis Alys. The resulting videos and drawings embody the immediate energy, humour, and embrace of the experiential experiment that is essential for an understanding of performance and body art.

Presented in partnership with Gallery TPW, for the PSi Conference taking place in Toronto June 9–12.

© Guillaume Désanges, The History of Performance Art in 20 Minutes, 2010. Photo Shannon Cochrane.

Performance Yellow

This fragrance opens us to the question, has the show started? It's winter, the theatre is colder than the street and the room is filled with people and all their winter smells: wet faux leather, down, too much shampoo, and beer breath. The atmosphere is a trickster. Am I late, am I early?

Top Notes

yellow mandarin, mimosa

Middle Notes

honey, chamomile, salt

Base Notes

narcissus, guaiac wood, piss, beer