Left: Eleanor Bauer, Bauer Hour, 2013. Right: Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures, 2013. Photos courtesy of Performa.
Left: Eleanor Bauer, Bauer Hour, 2013. Right: Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures, 2013. Photos courtesy of Performa.
November 4th, 2013 · Performa

Performa 13: First Days

As we raced through the first days of Performa 13, Boris Charmatz paid tribute to Merce Cunningham in "Musée de la danse: Three Collective Gestures" at MoMA; Paweł Althamer takes over Biba in Williamsburg for the duration of the biennial; musicians Meredith Monk, Joan La Barbara, Maja Ratkje, Jenny Hval, Stine Motland & C. Spencer Yeh, and Attila Cshar expressed the full range of just what the voice can do in a pair of experimental concerts, while choreographer Eleanor Bauer hosted The Bauer Hour, a nighttime variety show, at the Bowery Poetry Club, among many other highlights.

For three weeks, Performa and a consortium of arts organizations band together to transform New York City into the performance capital of the world, breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts.

Many artists in Performa would not define themselves as performance artists, and often work live for the first time while taking part in the biennial. We asked several biennial artists about their experience of creating live work, and as well as highlights from Performa 13 artists and friends of Performa.

 

Eleanor Bauer, Bauer Hour:

What’s most at stake when working live?
Timing (is everything). Being present with what’s happening. Deciding how mistakes are included, which is different with each piece.

How does your live work relate to your work in other media?
My live work is my main work. Other kinds of work are usually in support of that work: writing, drawing, talking, organizing.

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
Yes. Also call myself a dancer, a choreographer, a director, an entertainer, a writer, a comedian, an amateur singer, and an artist with no other modifier.

Performa 13 performances not to be missed: 
Eleanor Bauer, Bauer Hour; Eleanor Antin, An Afternoon with Eleanora Antinova (A.K.A. Eleanor Antin); Cally Spooner, And You Were Wonderful, On Stage; Florian Hecker, C.D. - A Script for Synthesis, Eddie Peake, Endymion

 

Shana Lutker, The Nose, The Cane, The Broken Left Arm:

What’s most at stake when working live?
Liveness is a lack of control, the remove of the privilege of declaring something finished or complete. When something is performed for a live audience, it can never be complete, because it can never be exactly the same twice. That’s very exciting and simultaneously very terrifying.

How does your live work relate to your work in other media?
I use similar strategies, trying to create a certain kind of viewing experience, situating the viewer in between knowing and not-knowing, between the rational and the unconscious.

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
No, I just call myself an artist.

Performa 13 performances not to be missed: 
Maria Hassabi, PREMIERE; Molly Lowe, Hands Off; Two Arrabalesques: A Surrealist Café; Vishal Jugdeo, A Shaky Picture Has No Weight; Joan Jonas, Reanimation

 

Dani Gal, Failed to Bind:

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
I don’t call myself a performance artist. I am working a lot with sound in general and specifically with voice and speech, so performance has become part of my work.

Sound can only exist in a live situation. The rest is documentation. So if the tape recorder won’t work, the live performance is at stake.
 

Alexandre Singh, The Humans:

What’s most at stake when working live?
Sometimes in the middle of an earnest and dignified speech, your lead character’s trousers may fall down to his ankles. This actually happened to us. It wasn’t meant to.

How does your live work relate to your work in other media?
It’s exactly the same as the rest—minus the trouser splitting.

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
No. Especially not at the immigration counter. Some of those officers wear moustaches.

Performa 13 performances not to be missed:
Bedwyr Williams, A Break In; Cally Spooner, And You Were Wonderful, On Stage; Rashid Johnson, Dutchman; Shana Lutker, The Nose, The Cane, The Broken Left Arm; Philippe Quesne, Bivouac.


Keith Rowe, Lynn Loo, and Guy Sherwin, Man With a Projector:

What’s most at stake when working live?
Not enough writings on the experience of the works when they are performed.

How does your live work relate to your work in other media?
Making works for live film projection performances brings further challenges in understanding time, space, and especially in light. The gap between the audience and the work becomes much closer when projectors are present in the space and the filmmaker manipulates the functions of the machines that affect what happens on screen. So, during the performance, the audience is experiencing the making of the work.

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
I call myself an artist filmmaker.
 

Guy Sherwin:

What’s most at stake when working live?
Keeping it live. Making it work as choreography. In the case of Man with Mirror, not dropping the mirror.

How does your live work relate to your work in other media?
In recent years I’ve moved my work with Lynn almost entirely into live performance in the attempt to bring film closer to the condition of music, especially live improv music, with which it sometimes interacts.

Do you call yourself a performance artist?
An artist who works with film and performance. The word film has to be in there somewhere.
 

And picks from Aditya Julka, Performa Board of Directors: Rashid Johnson, Dutchman; Subodh Gupta, Celebration; Alexandre Singh, The Humans; Raqs Media Collective, The Last International; Ryan McNamara, MEƎM: A STORY BALLET ABOUT THE INTERNET

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