For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  June 7, 2017




NEW YORK – Performa, the internationally acclaimed organization dedicated to live performance across disciplines, announces Circulations, an ambitious architecture program for Performa 17, the seventh edition of the Performa Biennial, to take place November 1–19, 2017, at locations throughout New York City. Circulations builds upon Performa’s sustained commitment to revealing how performance can be a radical tool to rethink architecture’s uses and aesthetics. It will unfold as a multilayered program comprised of site-specific live performances and architectural experiments in iconic and unexpected architectural venues throughout the city and region, as well as a symposium and a scholarly publication.

“Performance and architecture always go hand in hand.  From our daily routines, to the spaces that Performa identifies as frame or backdrop for Performa Commissions, it is the built environment that shapes our behavior and impacts our understanding of space,” says RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Chief Curator of Performa. “Since the late 1970s, when new building commissions were scarce, architects used performance to put their concepts into practice, even before constructing their first buildings. Performa 17 puts a spotlight on this little-known history, while initiating live works that reveal current architectural sensibilities and modes of thinking in new ways.”    

Examining one of architecture’s primary concerns—the movement of bodies in space—and entering into present-day political and social debates, Circulations will gather together architects, artists, curators, performers, and theorists to explore the predicaments of contemporary urban life, and to enact possible alternatives in new commissioned live works and collaborative projects. The program will offer an extensive survey of the historical use of performance within architectural practices, while also positioning such performances within a globalized, digitalized world where architecture exceeds the limits of the built environment. The resulting commissions, projects, and scholarship will establish a new critical benchmark for architecture and performance, and reveal the myriad ways that bodies and buildings inform and transform one another.

“New York, with its dense urban fabric and complex history—from its Downtown mystique to its real estate–driven present—is the ideal location for a program like this,” says Charles Aubin, the principal curator of Circulations. “The artists and architects treat the city as a platform for experimentation where human beings and their activities confront the built environment. Performance offers imaginative new ways to examine our preconceived ideas about architecture and reassess its agendas.”


Circulations will bring to life “The Environment-Bubble,” a widely influential blueprint by the Montreal-based architect François Dallegret, for the first time since it was first proposed in 1965. Dallegret’s “Bubble” was envisioned as a flexible, temporary dome, capable of hosting multiple occupants, with a central mainframe containing domestic appliances and new technologies. Initially conceived to enhance Reyner Banham’s thinking in “A Home Is Not a House,” a seminal text on ecological building practices published in Art in America in 1965, the “Bubble” became a reference point for generations of architects seeking radical ways to challenge the division of public and private spaces. For Performa 17, Dallegret will collaborate with Los Angeles–based architect, François Perrin, and Los Angeles-based choreographer, Dimitri Chamblas, to turn the “Bubble” into an active site of physical and intellectual engagement. This itinerant, inflatable structure will roam across New York City, presenting programming that revisits the utopian ambitions of the 1960s and scrutinizes their relevance to the present day. Daily dance workshops, open to the public, will further the project’s aspirations to bring individuals together and shape temporary communities.

A Swedish artist of Palestinian descent, Tarik Kiswanson expands upon his multifaceted upbringing to address hotly debated notions of interwoven identities and cultural hybridization. His Performa Commission takes as its starting point the artist’s early emotional memories and spatial sensations from his Swedish hometown of Halmstad. The artist will transfigure these recollections of childhood into an epic coming-of-age performance by a group of teenage boys, singing a new a cappella composition that ruminates on the turbulent world of migration, displacement, and the meaning of home. Co-commissioned and co-produced with Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette.

Based in New York since 1976, the Japanese-born choreographer and dancer Eiko Otake has spent four and a half decades refining a subtle, choreographic grammar grounded in extreme slowness, shared vulnerability, and a sense of time that is larger than the human life. For Performa 17, the artist will push her body to the limits of dance and insert her singular, ethereal figure within the architecture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On three consecutive Sundays during the Biennial, Otake will interrogate the spaces and meanings of all three of The Met’s locations—the encyclopedic museum on Fifth Avenue, the modernist project incarnated in The Met Breuer, and the uncanny reconstruction of a medieval past at The Met Cloisters. Curated by Limor Tomer, General Manager of Live Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For his Performa Commission, Bucharest-based, French artist Jimmy Robert will inhabit Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, transforming the modernist icon into a stage for an intimate performance that delves into the intersections of architecture, visibility, and black representation. Drawing on the house’s idiosyncratic features, Robert has devised a score of choreographic phrases, music, and poetry for two performers, who will engage in a subtle game of looking and being looked at. Robert’s layered performance will turn the Glass House into an arena where exposure, representation, and power can be thought anew. Co-commissioned with The Glass House. Co-curated with Cole Akers, Curator of The Glass House.

Marching On is a project by Bryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson, architects and professors at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), in collaboration with the Marching Cobras of New York, a Harlem-based after-school drum line and dance team. The project will explore the crucial role of collective performance in urban African-American neighborhoods. Set in Marcus Garvey Park, Marching On will highlight the significance of marching and organized forms of collective performances as acts of both cultural identity and political resistance. Commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture.

For Performa 17, American architects and artists Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley will present The Newcomers, a nomadic architectural installation and durational performance that resonates with contemporary social anxieties. The duo will build and live in a suspended refuge that will evolve and migrate over a weeklong performance. Each day, Schweder and Shelley will work together to disassemble their temporary home, turn its materials into a makeshift bridge, and then reconstitute their raft-like shelter in a new location, where they will spend the night once again. As architects and urbanists face new environmental challenges, Schweder and Shelley propose a nimble form of habitation that challenges the discipline to think beyond permanence.


Performa 17 will launch a groundbreaking publication focusing on works by architects who challenge the limits of their discipline by incorporating actions, happenings, and staged situations into their practice. A companion to the biennial’s curatorial initiative, this new publication will compile historical and contemporary examples of architects and collectives working with performance, among them Coop Himmelb(l)au, OMA/AMO, Ricardo Bofill, Diller + Scofidio, Francis Kéré, and Andrés Jaque/Office for Political Innovation. The publication will shed light on how performance has underscored the relationship of the built environment to questions of labor, security, race, migration, mobility, environment, gentrification, and modes of public assembly. Co-edited by Charles Aubin, Performa curator, and Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, Associate Curator at New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture and 2016 Oslo Architecture Triennale Chief Curator with the After Belonging Agency.

Alongside this publication, Performa 17 will complete the Circulations program with a symposium presented by the Performa Institute on November 11, 2017, which will examine how performance can serve to challenge and question our understanding of buildings and cities. Gathering together international and American architects, artists, and scholars, the symposium will present visitors with a spirited, fast-paced series of talks, screenings, readings, and panel discussions. In line with Performa’s previous public programs, this unorthodox symposium will permit speakers and audience members to circulate freely in a specially designed Performa Hub, commissioned by Performa from the Berlin-based architect Markus Miessen for this edition.


Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Since launching New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, the organization has solidified its identity as a commissioning and producing entity. As a “museum without walls,” Performa provides important art historical heft to the field by showing the development of live art in all its forms from many different cultural perspectives reaching back to the Renaissance. The Performa Biennial is celebrated worldwide as the first biennial to give specialized attention to this remarkable history, transforming the city of New York into the “world capital of artists’ performance” every other November. Performa attracts a national and international audience of more than 200,000 and more than five million website hits during its three-week run. In the last decade, Performa has presented nearly 600 performances, worked with more than 700 artists, and toured commissioned performances in nearly 20 countries around the world.
The Performa curatorial team is led by Chief Curator RoseLee Goldberg, and includes Performa curators Adrienne Edwards and Charles Aubin, with contributions from Performa Consortium curators. The Performa program is produced by Esa Nickle.
For more on Performa and its programs, including its Biennial, please visit


The Performa Commissioning Fund for Performa 17 is supported by grants from Toby Devan Lewis and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and by the members of the Performa Commissioning Council. Additional program support for the Biennial is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation/Institute of International Education, Lambent Foundation, David and Elaine Potter Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Institut Français à Paris, and FUSED (French–US Exchange in Dance). Marching On by Bryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson is supported by a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.


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