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Performance Art: An Exploration of Living Sculpture, Performing Sculpture, and Performativity and the Development of an Experimental Approach to Music Composition

Konjani, Amir (2019) Performance Art: An Exploration of Living Sculpture, Performing Sculpture, and Performativity and the Development of an Experimental Approach to Music Composition. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Awarded for a Collaborative Programme of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music by the Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This research is a practice-led investigation consisting of a portfolio of compositions and an accompanying critical and reflective commentary. My compositional approach seeks to combine features of traditional compositional practice with an embodied approach more typical of contemporary and historical performance art. It is through my composition and subsequent critical reflection that I explore key concepts in my work: how approaches typical of post-dramatic theatre can be enacted in musical composition; the tension between a performative interpretation of artistic practice framed as ‘showing/doing’ (as described by Richard Schechner1) and the revealed and veiled performance practice associated with instrumental and vocal performance; and my approach to ‘breaking the fourth wall’ in the context of musical performance through the blurring of concert, theatrical, and installation environments and through the juxtaposition of elusive artistic practice and the more prosaic features that support this work (i.e. drawing attention to the lighting and sound engineers as a part of the performance alongside the more rarefied artistic practice). The main body of the commentary is divided into two sections. The first section provides a context for the analysis by expanding on the themes in relation to the work of other composers and artists. The second section describes the composition process, the rehearsals which took place, and my experience of producing the pieces. This part discusses seven contrasting works that make up the main portfolio. There are various performances, film arts, film of the process of making my instruments (living sculptures) and trailers presented as additional works (appendices). The pieces are presented chronologically on the accompanying three DVDs, which should help to illustrate the development of the work. The first two DVDs include the submitted seven pieces (i.e. The Main Portfolio) and the third DVD covers the appendices of promotional and extra materials.

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