The Convaluation of Performance Art : A Study of Peer Recognition Among Performance Artists

Abstract: Processes and forms of valuation, evaluation and valorization are important for bringing contemporary social life in order. In this thesis, I study the values of the small and autonomous avant-garde of the art-world, performance art. In art worlds, arguably, we can expect to find the most extreme cases of activities which constantly aim at transgressing existing ideas of what is valued in this world, i.e., art. Performance art is an activity that contemplates the border between art and non-art, and that as an activity contributes to the constitution of this border. My focus is on the ongoing process, which is seen in a historical light. I look at the social structure that both enables and constitutes values. I argue that this process should be understood as a convaluation (Aspers 2008), a partial order with some temporal extension that enables coordination based on valuation and evaluation processes. I find that the convaluation of performance art is characterized by a switched role structure––meaning that actors operate as both artists and curators and as such, switch from being evaluated to evaluating others. The central value that constitutes the convaluation of performance art is bodily presence.