In 2017 Performa and The Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) at Brown University announced a new three-year collaboration. The inaugural component was the co-commission of a new work by artist Kelly Nipper with MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab for Performa 17, which was developed during an artists’ residency at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University in summer 2017. During her residency at BAI Kelly worked collaborated with BAI staff and Brown students to develop the visual and dance components of the performance. The collaboration encompasses the co-commissioning of new artistic work for future Performa biennials, the exchange of artistic and scholarly talent among Performa artists and curators and Brown faculty and students, and internship opportunities at Performa for Brown students.
In collaboration with MIT’s Self Assembly Lab, Kelly Nipper created Terre Mécanique, her second Performa Commission. Terre Mécanique was a 30-minute performance with 2 Laban trained dancers and one MIT lab technician, an architectural scale liquid print head suspended by a specially designed winch system over an 8’ diameter spherical tank full of gel medium suspended from the ceiling and three object-environments. Entering in to the performance space, the audience encountered a performance already in progress in a setting that was an abstraction of the liquid printing lab at MIT and an analogue darkroom. The performance brought together the artists’ interest in early experiments in the evolution of still and moving images, Laban Movement Analysis, and the transformation of space through the process of engineering and object production. Terre Mécanique is considered by the artist as the first foray into a major new body of work.