Central Permise

While Performing Pedagogy is not specifically a theoretical text, it does fit comfortably in the company of theory, and it utilizes theory liberally in the development of key points. The central thesis of the text is that „performance art enables students to learn the curriculum of academic culture from the perspective of their personal memories and cultural histories. In doing so, performance art represents the praxis of postmodern theories in art and education“ (p. 1). Theory and praxis form a co-dependent engagement here, with performance art being an embodiment of orientations formulated alternatively as critical theory. It is with Postmodernism‘s transgressive criticality, as opposed to Modernism‘s creativity, that Garoian envisions the emergence of personal and collective agency through art.
Garoian‘s claims are: first, that performance art is the most appropriate art form for our time; second, that performance art implies, influences, and requires changes in pedagogy, and third, that this pedagogy is applicable to art education in general, replacing prior models such as Beaux-Artes, vocational training, Arts and Crafts, Bauhaus, child-centered, and Discipline-Based Art Education. It is from a faith in flesh that Garoian constructs both his position and the structure of his text. For Garoian, our bodies are politicized, our skin forming the ramparts from out of which we must claim our educational culture. Our flesh, so fully inscribed by cultural conditions, requires deep critical work to reveal and assert the agency of the person, i.e. to be educated. Performance art, because it most fully utilizes embodiment, placing artists and viewers on the line corporeally, psychologically, and socially, provides the fullest range of resistance sites for education to take place.
The staging of this resistance is realizable when people enter into a liminal experience, where personal and cultural habits are free to be reconfigured. One might think of performance art and performance art pedagogy as providing a clearing that allows for emergent connections to occur. Garoian infers that the evolution of performance art in the 20th century coincides most usefully with constructivist theories of teaching and learning.