Performance, Art and the Female Nude at Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
My thesis examines the event of Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School, which has branches in over 120 cities worldwide. Dr Sketchy's combines the format of a life drawing class with burlesque performance, creating an event that focuses on both the performance and the creation of art by the attendees. Dr Sketchy's was begun in New York in 2005 by its creator Molly Crabapple, now an internationally recognized artist and popular alternative celebrity. I focus my study on the Christchurch branch of Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School, founded in June 2010 by Audrey Baldwin, a performance artist and Fine Arts graduate of the University of Canterbury. In my thesis I discuss the way Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School combines and compromises between the life drawing format and the burlesque performance, despite the differences and seeming incompatibilities between these two forms. I investigate Dr Sketchy's as a contemporary cultural performance which combines and to some degree inverts established genres of performance. I give a detailed history of burlesque performance and of life drawing within art education to allow a comprehensive comparison of the two traditions, particularly the way each has conceptualized the nude female body. I argue that the combination of the two forms allows Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School to transgress the traditional boundaries of each format and introduce influences that would otherwise endanger the status of life drawing and burlesque performance within their respective contexts. I also argue that the nude within Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School transgresses the traditional conception of the nude within life drawing by using burlesque as an acceptable reference for the transgressive elements of the show. The arguments put forward in this thesis are the product of extensive participant observation, interviews and literature reviews on the relevant art and performance traditions.