In 1974, German artist Joseph Beuys arrived in America for the first time. Upon landing at the airport, he was transported by ambulance directly to the Rene Block Gallery in New York City. He emerged from the ambulance wrapped in a grey felt blanket and was then placed in a room with a wild coyote where he spent the next three days.
According to kidsofdada.com: “The coyote’s behavior changed throughout the three days, becoming sometimes cautious, detached, aggressive and then friendly.” Also, at one point, “Fifty new copies of the Wall Street Journal were added to the closed space, which the coyote acknowledged by urinating on them.”
After the three days were up, Beuys was again wrapped in the felt blanket and was returned to the airport.
Beuys called this performance art piece “I like America and America likes me.”
In 2012 an artist dressed up as the Hamburglar and biked around New York City throwing partially-eaten McDonald’s cheeseburgers at bystanders. The artist said he wanted it to be “one of those little things that messes up your whole day.”
Cuban performance artist Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera plans to spend three weeks living inside the walls of a Chicago art gallery. He’s titling this performance piece “In the Absence of a Body.” While living inside the 2.5-foot-wide corridor, Diaz-Perera will do only the most essential actions of his quotidian life: sleep, eat, and personal hygiene. He will not communicate with anyone on the other side of the walls. While he will be able to observe the audience, Diaz-Perera will remain invisible to them. Until the close of the exhibition, Diaz-Perera will attempt to embrace the act of becoming a Ghost of himself, an absence, nothing.
A Serbian performance artist assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions with 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose.
Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, olive oil, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions.
Chinese artist He Yunchang believes in suffering for his art. His performance pieces have included:
- Having one of his ribs removed so that he could wear it as a necklace.
- Having a doctor cut a one meter gash down the side of his body, without anesthesia.
- Encasing himself in a cube of quick-setting concrete for 24 hours.
- Trying to “cut a river in half” by suspending himself above it from a crane while holding a knife in the water, as blood dripped from cuts in his arms.
- Painting the fingernails and toenails of 10 mannequins with his own blood.
- Staring at 10,000 watt bulbs to damage his eyesight
- Burning his clothes while wearing them.
There is a performance artist whose art includes eating human flesh in public places and is living proof that England does not have an anti-cannibalism statute. He has, however, been arrested for making earrings out of human fetuses.
In 1974, an artist allowed her audience to use 72 objects (ranging from a feather to a loaded gun) on her however they wanted and she wouldn’t react for 6 hours. The audience became aggressive, and when the six hours were up, everyone ran away to avoid confrontation.
There is a sport called “Extreme Ironing” in which people go to remote, strange, and hard to reach places; and iron clothes.