Since the 1960s, visual art practices--from body art to minimalism--have taken contemporary art outside the museum and gallery by embracing theatricality and performance and exploding the boundaries set by traditional art criticism. Such practices prompt us to reassess our ways of contructing meaning from art, making us receptive to the element of performance both in the processes of art production, and in the act of interpretation itself. "Performing the Body/Performing the Text" explores the new performativity in art theory and practice, examining ways of rethinking interpretive processes in visual culture. This collection undertakes two parallel projects: exploring art practices which perform the subject, and examining ways in which modes of performativity in contemporary art offers new models for interpreting artworks. Demonstrating how modernist art criticism attempts to fix the work with more stable sets of aesthetic meanings, the contributors argue that interpretation needs to be recognised as much more dynamic and contingent. It does not come naturally' at the moment of contact with the artwork, but is worked out as an ongoing, open performance between artists and spectators, with meaning circulating fluidly in the complex web of connections between artists, patrons, collectors, and between both specialised and non-specialised viewers within the arena of encounter. Offering its own performance script, and embracing both canonical fine' artists such as Manet, De Kooning and Jasper Johns, and performance artists such as Vito Acconci, Gunter Brus and the Sacred Naked Nature Girls, "Performing the Body/Performing the Text" offers radical re-readings of art works and points confidently towards new models for understanding art.