Acts of the Absurd:
Contemporary Performance Art and the Absurd

                                                                                                                                         with Rosie Gibbens

Course Description

For decades have (performance) artists) drawn from absurdist strategies such as cycles and repetition, nonsensical language or imagery, humor and slapstick, or unconventional combinations of bodies and objects to comment on their socio-political context, unhinge conventions and rules, and disrupt the viewers’ sense of order and rationality. The focus of this course is a critical exploration of absurdity as a methodology and inspiration for performance making. We will cover the parents of absurdism including Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett, the Dadaists and Fluxus but the main focus will be on contemporary artists using their own bodies in performances, films and photographs. For example:  Francis Alys, Pilvi Takala and Mika Rottenberg. We will think about why artists use absurdity in their work and to what aim, with the intention to clarify the conceptual framework for our own work. Weekly themes will inform a mixture of reading/art viewing and guide you through a number of practical exercises to develop your own work in response. 
Contrary to Martin Esslin’s observation that “absurd is that which is devoid of purpose” this course invites its participants to discover what absurdism means to them in the context of their practice and how they can employ it for their own purpose. 


About Rosie Gibbens

Rosie Gibbens is a British artist who makes performances, videos, sculptures and installations that feature her body. Using absurd humour, she explores gender performativity, sexual politics, consumer desire, labour, and the slippery overlap between these. The mindset behind her work is often of someone attempting to participate seamlessly in contemporary life, but not quite managing.
Rosie studied Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art (2018), and Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins (2015). She has exhibited and performed at institutions including: Konig Gallery, South London Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Elephant West, Zabludowicz Collection, TJ Boulting and Giant. In 2022 she won the Ingram Prize, was shortlisted for the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award and was awarded the Sarabande residency. More information about Rosie and her work can be found on her website: 



AVAILABILITY: Places still available
DURATION: April 16-May 7; Tuesdays 6-8PM CET
LOCATION: Online course
TUITION FEE: 175 €  (no equipment required)



Course Image Caption:  Rosie Gibbens, "'The New Me (advert)_ Stylish and efficient cleaning outfit", video still. Photo Jon Baker