Photo by Javier Sanchez 2011.
Photo by Javier Sanchez 2011.
December 16th, 2011 · Performa 11 Staff

A Vertical One-Night Performa

On December 1st, 2011, Performa produced a vertical one-night Performa for the tenth- anniversary celebration for Art Basel Miami Beach at the New World Symphony Center in Miami Beach. This site-specific event in the new Frank Gehry-designed building took place over three floors and included performances by Performa artists including iona rozeal brown (Performa 11), Reggie Watts (Performa 11), Bedwyr Williams (Performa 11), Luciano Chessa's Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (Performa 09), and the X-Patsys (Performa 07 and 05).

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Included in the evening’s performances was the Performa 09 Commission The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners, a special concert of original scores and compositions for the intonarumori, or “noise-intoners.” As part of its celebration of the 100th anniversary of Italian Futurism during Performa 09, Performa invited composer and music scholar Luciano Chessa to reproduce the legendary instruments (eight noise families of one to three instruments each, in various registers, totaling 16 in all) that Italian Futurist painter and composer Luigi Russolo built in Milan in the summer of 1913. As instruments built to replicate industrial sounds of the early twentieth century, the intonarumori are considered the original analog synthesizer, and the ancestors to the latest electronic synthesizers used today.

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The performance featured Artistic Director Luciano Chessa as well as Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth who refers to the noise intoners as “the DNA of contemporary music,” and Joan La Barbara, playing alongside the New World Symphony Fellows, conducted by Chessa, with compositions by Luigi Russolo, Mike Patton and Chessa. Music For 16 Noise Intoners has toured extensively since its premiere at Performa 09 to venues in Italy, Germany and France.

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The X-Patsys, the acclaimed musical project that began in 1998, consists of actress Barbara Sukowa and artists Robert Longo and Jon Kessler. Kessler, whose Performa Commission with artist Mika Rottenberg was presented at Performa 11, had a dream in which he saw Sukowa dressed as a country-western singer belting out legendary Patsy Cline songs. He told his vision to Sukowa and Longo and together the three used the dream as inspiration to form their band. The X-Patsys, who performed in both Performa 05 and Performa 07, also feature musicians Knox Chandler, Anthony Coleman and Ernie Brooks.

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Also part of the evening’s performances was a reprise of iona rozeal brown’s Performa 11 Commission battle of yestermore, an extension of the artist’s paintings which are influenced by myth-based genres of Kabuki and Noh theater, as well as hip-hop culture and vogueing (the dance style made famous in the Harlem ballroom scene of the 1960s). brown’s first live performance battle of yestermore tells the story of an epic battle between a princess and the guardians of her family’s gravesite and featured vogueing legend Benny Ninja with Javier Ninja, along with New York hip-hop dancers Rokafella, Beasty, GI Jane, Lady Beast, Snowbunny and Mona Lisa. battle of yestermore also featured an original sound score composed and performed by brown.

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Performa Ha! explores the crossover between conceptual art and stand-up comedy. Presented during Performa 11, Performa Ha! featured artists, comedians, and musicians who work with the uneasy, conceptually oriented, and occasionally dark manner of stand-up. For the tenth- anniversary event, Performa Ha! featured performances by Reggie Watts, Dynasty Handbag, and Bedwyr Williams. 

Special to the evening was a unique array of food inspired by Miami and the Florida coast by New York chef Matthew Weingarten, who created a menu featuring surprises such as a seven foot- long stuffed alligator and pulled pork, ham and cheese sandwiches made to look like Cuban cigars. Throughout the New World Symphony were custom lighting installations provided by Joshua Light Show. Founded in 1967, Joshua Light Show consists of a group of artists who create one-of-a-kind multi-media projections in concert venues throughout the world.

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Art Basel’s tenth- anniversary celebration continues Performa’s mission of producing historically grounded events which link the past and present in inventive new ways. Past Performa events have included The Red Party (2010) which was inspired by the groundbreaking artists of the Russian Revolution from the early part of the twentieth century; The Metal Ball (2008), which was inspired by the Bauhaus’s 1929 Metallic Festival; and The White on White Party (2006), inspired by Fluxus from the 1960s.

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