Performa—the internationally acclaimed organization dedicated to live performance across disciplines—announces Performa 15, the sixth edition of the renowned Performa Biennial, to take place November 1 – 22, 2015.
Performa 15 will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Performa, established in 2004 to make known the significance of artists’ performance in 20th century art history and to provoke new directions for artists’ performance in the 21st century, and ten years since the first edition of the biennial in November 2005 (Performa 05), which quickly established the Performa Biennial as not only the first of its kind internationally, but also as one of the most important cultural events on the international art-world calendar. The quality and originality of Performa’s ground-breaking Performa Commissions, from opening night in 2005 of Jesper Just’s True Love Is Yet to Come, to the most recent in 2013 of Ryan McNamara’s Meem; A Story Ballet About the Internet, and including riveting works by Isaac Julien, Wangechi Mutu, Mike Kelly, Nathalie Djurberg, Adam Pendleton, Shirin Neshat, Elmgreen and Dragset, Rashid Johnson and Ragnar Kjartansson among others, launched the careers of many younger artists and presented unforgettable new directions for performance from established artists. Performa Commissions and the full spectrum of the Performa Biennial program changed the very nature of live art by artists triggering a broad public interest in this inventive new material and gaining for the genre an entirely new appreciation from museum curators and directors, as well as from scholars, academics, and writers, and members of print, television and on-line media criticism and journalism.
Performa 15 will once again fan out across the city of New York for three action-packed weeks, providing an entirely new approach to the urban setting as staging ground for art and culture. Working in collaboration with some of the city’s most adventurous cultural institutions, and discovering venues or repurposing them to frame the original material of each of the Performa artists in the biennial, the city becomes the ‘performance capital of the world’, building on New York’s remarkable history since the 1960s, and especially the phenomenon of ‘downtown,’ as a magnet for avant-garde artists from across disciplines and around the world.
“It is thrilling to look back on ten years of Performa and to see a roster of extraordinary work that is the result of the exceptional commissioning and producing process that our organization provides. We focus on artists, their powerful dreams and imagination. We also focus on audiences, creating optimum situations for experiencing new work. Our goal is for visual artists to venture into performance and in so doing change the cultural landscape of the city, and for New Yorkers (and visitors) to experience the artists’ work, and their city in new and exciting ways,” said RoseLee Goldberg, Performa Founding Director and Curator.
Each edition of the Performa Biennial begins with a historical anchor that grounds contemporary performance in the history that came before. Past themes for the Performa Biennial have included Italian Futurism (Performa 09), Russian Constructivism (Performa 11), and Surrealism (Performa 13).
Performa 15 will explore the Renaissance as a precedent to today’s performance, drawing attention to the role of artists at that time as makers of live works -- pageants, triumphal processions, court fetes, fireworks, royal marriage celebrations and allegorical tableaux. Collaborative, interdisciplinary, and site-specific, such activities also frequently communicated unveiled messages of the politics and philosophy of the patrons who sponsored them. “Even Leonardo da Vinci created performances,” Goldberg says.
Looking back to the Renaissance, and forward to a new decade with performance now firmly positioned in museums and within academia as a viable form and as a multi-tiered discipline to engage audiences of contemporary art and media culture, Performa 15 will reflect on a broad range of approaches to live performance, showing a depth and variety of material that continues to open new possibilities of visual art performance in the 21st century.
Performa continues with a dedicated team who bring both curatorial knowledge and producing expertise to working with artists. Performa 15’s curatorial team includes founding director and curator RoseLee Goldberg and Performa curators Adrienne Edwards, Mark Beasley, Charles Aubin, and curators-at large Defne Ayas, and Lana Wilson, as well as curators from the Performa Consortium, a selective network of New York City’s most adventurous cultural institutions. Recipients of Performa’s new Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellowships will also contribute to Performa 15, nurturing the next generation of curators while developing hands-on curricula for curatorial studies in performance art.
Announcements on Performa Commissions, Pavilion Without Walls, The Performa Hub, and the Performa Consortium program to follow.
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 to 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 museum without walls. In the last decade, Performa has presented 592 performances, worked with 732 artists, received over 200,000 attendees, and has toured commissioned performances in 17 countries around the world.
For more on Performa and its programs including the Performa Biennial, please visit http://performa-arts.org/.
Performa 15 is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation, Ford Foundation, Lambent Foundation, the Australian Arts Council, Fondation Galeries Lafayette, The National Endowment for the Arts, Toby Devan Lewis, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, La MCUFEU, Mission Culturelle et Universitaire Française aux Etats-Unis, and Institut Français.
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