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Performance Now
Didier Faustino, “Hand Architecture” (2009)LAXArt, Los Angeles. Courtesy the artist

This book showcases some of history’s greatest performance artists

From Marina Abramović to Tania Bruguera, and Pussy Riot, these artists show how performance crossed over from avant-garde to become an essential art form

Once confined to the margins of the cerebral art world, performance art has become one of the most recognised forms of creative expression in the 21st century. A new book from Thames & Hudson, titled Performance Now, argues that performance is “an increasingly essential vehicle for communicating ideas across the globe in the new millennium”.

Compiled by RoseLee Goldberg, one of the best-known curators of contemporary live art, the book offers an extensive survey of the most ground-breaking performance artists living and working today. Featured are illustrated profiles of artists including Marina Abramović, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, and film directors Matthew Barney and Omer Fast. Goldberg draws attention to the expansiveness of the work being produced by these and other visual artists, showing how their performances intersect with themes of beauty, global citizenship, and political activism across mediums such as technology, theatre, dance, and architecture.

With the proliferation of film and social media, performance is no longer just a live art form, but something that can be relayed across continental borders. Goldberg's book looks to a number of artists in the Middle East – including Yael Bartana, Sigalit Landau, and Lida Abdul – whose work uses performance to create an imaginative space that confronts the traumas of separation and war.

Through an extensive compendium of images and analyses, Performance Now champions the radical potential of live art. Performance is celebrated not only as a visual art form but as a progressive “global language” that breaks linguistic boundaries to communicate with artists and audiences around the world.

Performance Now is published by Thames & Hudson and available now