In performance art the artist performs in front of an audience but it isn't like a play with a script or fictitious characters. The artist makes it known that they are aware of the audience and directly communicates to them verbally or non-verbally. More mainstream performance art may include dance, live music, and a show like Cirque Du Soleil but they are in the category of the performance arts. The term is really meant for conceptual art because the performing arts are more for entertainment purposes while performance art is more dramatic. It started to form sometime during the middle ages but wasn't really notable until modern times. It really stood on its own beginning in the mid 1900s especially the 1960s. Laurie Anderson and Andy Warhol are among the most well known performance artists. Warhol would stage events involving several people in New York City while Anderson, a musician, uses experiemental music and sounds during her shows.
Performance art doesn't not come to many people's minds when they think about conventional art some may not consider it art at all. I think a good solid performance piece can be appreciated by anyone and today it is one of the better known genres of art. Since the 1960s it has changed with the times encorporating the media and new technologies. It is live art with no rules or regulations, an experimentation by the artist. It is meant to be memorable and sometimes that can be through means of being shocking or horrifying but I think the best part of it is aside from buying a ticket is the fact that it really cannot be for sale.