by Meaghan Kent
November 01, 2013
Performa, like so many other biennials, has greatly expanded over the years. Appearing this year in its fifth iteration, Performa 13 is a blockbuster. The real success lies in their partnerships with other institutions and organizations, which contributes to this years’ larger scale and effective cross promotion. Performa’s team, led by Founding Director and curator RoseLee Goldberg, is partnering with 45 other curators in what they call a "Biennial Consortium" to organize over 200 events. This sounds massive considering the Performa calendar is 24 days. For reference, Performa 11 included 130 events crammedinto 21 days, and Performa 05 included 80 events in 16 days.
As a result, every day through the magical month of November is packed with events and there are many that should not be missed. The Performa commissions are definite highlights, but due to the Consortium there are many thoughtful and well-organized programs worth checking out that you might have missed were they not included under the Performa umbrella. You can sift through their online calendar for the full list and fine tune from there—deciding how many times you’re willing to drop 20 bucks, or enjoy the events that are free.
Bearing all this in mind: the reality is that performance art is happening everywhere all the time, and not just every two years in November. Much of the current attention directed towards performance can be credited to MoMA's fairly recent rediscovery and dedication in programming and collection, and to RoseLee Goldberg's original vision. Yet in the grand trajectory, performance has never really stopped. You only need to check your art listings to find it. After recently experiencing Hyphen Hub's presentation with artists Richard Garet and Tristan Perich, I can tell you that when you hear of an upcoming event, go, or you will truly miss out.
RoseLee Goldberg prepares a “reader” for each Performa, providing texts to ground our understanding of certain elements of performance art history, and this years’ is devoted to Surrealism. Before you go out, or maybe when you get back in, check out Hyperallergic's excerpts on Surrealism. There is a wide range here: Andre Breton's Manifesto; Mary Ann Caws, Surrealism and Women; Dawn Ades, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed, and Michel Foucault, Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel, to name a few.
Performa labels "Biba" as Althamer's first large scale public work in New York City. The project is held at Biba bar in Williamsburg and is meant to engage the public at large. It will continue over the course of November, and they have set up a Facebook page for updates. Althamer's last large scale work was a highlight at the Venice Biennale. This interview makes you want to meet him for a drink.
Read more about Voice is the Original Instrument and Joan La Barbara in this interview in The Wall Street Journal. If you are a fanatic about this particular period in New York you can also check out Pope.L's Cage Unrequited at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center on November 16.
This should be a very interesting tour of New York through the perspective of filmmaker Philippe Quesne. The tour culminates at a surprise location described as "unusual and highly theatrical."
Conrad Ventur's research and collaboration with Boricua drag performer and Warhol film muse Mario Montez is further developed in this show. It's now shifted to a tribute to Montez, who died this past September. For more information, read an interview with Ventur on FAD. Organized by Participant Inc.
When I interviewed Ryan McNamara last summer in a panel discussion at Independent Curators International (ICI) and for Site95, we discussed the increasing use of the internet in his work and how, for him, it has progressed from a sole form of documentation to a more utilized, interactive and spontaneous tool. I definitely look forward to seeing how his ideas have progressed in this ballet performance. A recent interview on the project is on Artinfo.
In case you missed his project at MoMA PS1 this past March, Owens will perform five unique interactive presentations at Third Streaming. The last night culminates with audience members providing objects or text for Owens to utilize. This event is curated by Adrienne Edwards in conjunction with the exhibition Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, opening at the Studio Museum in Harlem on November 14.
This event focuses on two seminal works by Graham created during the Surrealist movement, including a rare performance of Herodiade, archival footage, and discussion.
I was a big fan of Michael Bell-Smith’s show at Foxy Production in September 2012. His projections were really visceral and felt incredibly fresh. This new collaboration with Sara Magenheimer and Ben Vida looks like a fun night, organized by Triple Canopy.
Molly Lowe’s excellent video FORMED was presented on the LILAC steamship as part of Site95's Dead in August film night, curated by Molly Surno, and in Double Life at SculptureCenter, curated by Kristen Chappa. Lowe's work is engaging, the visuals of objects and movement are organic and lush, and the multi layered references and details are emblematic of how smart and thoughtful the work is.
An Afternoon on Humor may be the best way to continue to understand and reflect on the work of Mike Kelley. This event is part of MoMA PS1's Sunday Sessions—be sure to check out the other events listed on their website.
Meaghan Kent is the Director and Chief Curator of site95. Kent was a gallery director for the past ten years and has worked at Casey Kaplan, Andrea Rosen Gallery, and I-20, managing the careers of internationally emerging and established artists and coordinating exhibitions locally and worldwide. Prior to her move to New York, Kent completed her MA in art history at George Washington University, Washington, DC and her BA at the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2012, she participated in the ICI Curatorial Intensive in New York. Kent has written and curated independently, most recently contributing to Art in America online. Recent curated exhibitions include: “City Limits: John James Anderson” at Locust Projects, Miami, “Trombly Rodriguez: The Fabric of a Space” at the Abrons Arts Center, New York, and the annual multi-venue project “Dead in August” in New York. Her upcoming exhibition “Urban Interactions” will open at the Hillyer Art Space, Washington DC on October 4.