Christian Jankowski, Rooftop Routine, 2007. Photo copyright Paula Court.
Ragnar Kjartansson, Bliss, 2011. Photo Paula Court
Liz Glynn, 2011. Photo Elizabeth Proitsis
Adam Pendleton, The Revival, 2007. Photo Paula Court.
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Ari Benjamin Meyers, K.62, 2009.
Shirin Neshat, Overruled, 2011. Photo Paula Court.
William Kentridge, I Not Me, the Horse is Not Mine, 2009. Photo Paula Court.


Performa is a multidisciplinary non-profit arts organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Part of Performa’s mission is to present a biennial of visual art performance in New York City that illuminates the critical role of performance in the history of art as well as its enormous significance in the international world of contemporary art.

Performa is the brainchild of art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, whose definitive book, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (1979 & 2000), pioneered the study of performance art and has been translated into eleven languages. Ms. Goldberg’s writing, as well as her activities as curator at The Kitchen in the late 1970s, has shaped the public’s view of live performance as a visual art form for almost thirty years.  In 2001, Ms. Goldberg originated and produced visual artist Shirin Neshat’s first live performance, Logic of the Birds, with critical and popular success in both New York and London. The idea to create the Performa biennial, with a specially commissioned new performance at its core, evolved from this highly successful production. Ms Goldberg is Founding Director and Curator of Performa, which was founded in 2004.

Performa’s Objectives are:

- Commission new performance projects in visual arts

- Present a dedicated performance biennial

- Consult and collaborate with art institutions and performing art presenters around the world to create dynamic and historically significant performance programs

- Through the Performa Institute, offer an ongoing educational platform for expanding the knowledge and understanding of this critical area of visual art and cultural history.

Performa Biennial

Performa 05 The first of its kind, the 05 Biennial offered an exciting program of performances, exhibitions, symposia, and film screenings organized in collaboration with a consortium of leading museums, galleries, alternative spaces, and independent curators in New York. The first Performa Biennial was an enormous critical and popular success and set a new standard for the positioning of live performance in the international contemporary art world. Over 25,000 people attended sold-out and filled-to-capacity events at more than 20 venues across the city, truly activating and animating all of New York, from Harlem down to Wall Street, during Performa 05’s entire three-week run.

Performa 07, the biennial’s second edition, was greeted with as much enthusiasm and acclaim as the first. Performa 07 featured 10 Performa Commissions and an extraordinary array of over 100 performances by artists from around the world, with events taking place at a consortium of more than 60 venues across the city. More than 25,000 visitors from around the world attended over 95 different events, most of which were free. Reviewing Performa 07 in Domus magazine, critic and curator Francesco Bonami announced, “[Performa is now] high up in the sky as one of the major contemporary art events to look forward to.”

Performa 09, the third biennial of new visual art performance, was held in New York City from November 1-22, 2009. The three-week festival featured new Performa Commissions and an exciting program of performances, exhibitions, educational forums, public art projects, publications, film screenings, and radio, Internet, and television broadcasts. Presented with a consortium of more than 60 arts institutions and a network of public and private venues across the city, Performa 09 showcased the work of more than 100 international artists, as seen from many different curatorial viewpoints, in a lively, performance-driven “festival as think tank.”

Performa 11, the fourth edition of the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance, was held in New York City (NYC) from November 1st-21st, 2011.  The three-week biennial showcased new work by more than 140 of the most exciting artists working today, in an innovative program that continues to break down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts. The 14 Performa Commissions included new work by ten individual artists and thee multi-artist projects: Tarek Atoui, iona rozeal brown, Gerard Byrne, Elmgreen & Dragset, Simon Fujiwara, Ragnar Kjartansson, Liz Magic Laser, Guy Maddin, Laurel Nakadate and James Franco, Shirin Neshat, Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler, Frances Stark, and Ming Wong. The Performa Premieres program included Robert Ashley, Boris Charmatz, Ben, Kinmont, and Mai Thu Perret.