If you want to become a performance artist, you should typically have a background in art in general so you have a sense of what others have done and how to use various aspects of composition. Beyond this knowledge, however, there are no absolute requirements for someone interested in performance art. The nature of any performance you wish to create is likely to dictate what types of skills and knowledge you should have. If you want to become a performance artist creating works that incorporate multimedia and computer hardware, for example, then you may want some knowledge of computer science and even programming.
To become a performance artist, you should typically have an understanding of various artistic concepts and trends. A performance artist usually works with a number of mediums, often including live performances or acting, to create an artistic work that defies simple classification within another genre of artistic work. While you may not want to use paint and a canvas as a performance artist, for example, it can help your performance if you understand different concepts regarding artistic compositions. Understanding color theory, knowing how to work with negative space, and working with shadows to create various effects can all help you become a performance artist.
Other than a basic understanding of different artistic movements and methodologies, however, there is little structured knowledge you need to have to become a performance artist. Other abilities or knowledge you may want depends on the type of performance you would like to create. If you want to work with recorded audio and video to construct elaborate performances using mixed media presentations, for example, then you may want to learn more about film or video recording. On the other hand, if you want to use dance in your performance, then a greater understanding of various dance traditions may help you become a performance artist.
There are other skills or abilities that can help you become a performance artist, such as understanding technology and software used in creating interactive media. Many artists have begun using hardware and software to create performances that can be interactive for audiences or even displayed online for a much wider audience. If you are interested in using such technology, then you should consider learning about different types of computer hardware. You may also want to learn some computer programming, since this would allow you to create your own applications, rather than relying on the tools provided by others.