Performa has announced its fourth visual art performance biennial, Performa 11, taking place November 1–20, 2011, throughout New York City. Performa 11 will feature performances by over 100 of the most exciting contemporary artists, including Norwegians Elmgren & Dragset and 9 other new Performa Commissions by acclaimed artists from around the world, as well as Performa Premieres and a host of new works by up-and-coming artists.
This year’s biennial will be a thrilling showcase of live culture across all artistic disciplines, taking place at over 80 venues throughout New York City and presented in collaboration with a consortium of over 40 arts and cultural organizations.
The artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, consisting of Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961, Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b. 1969, Trondeim, Norway), will present a theatrical performance titled Happy Days in the Art World that draws references from Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days (1961) and Sarah Thornton’s book Seven Days in the Art World (W. W. Norton & Company, 2008). The production will take place in the tradition of Beckett’s absurdist theater with a traditional proscenium stage with sets designed by the artists. Happy Days in the Art World will feature actors as well as a cameo by the artists, and will expand on the duo’s ironic take on contemporary art and the art world’s intrigue with celebrity.
Since Performa’s first biennial took New York City by storm in 2005, Performa has succeeded in presenting the nation’s first and only live visual art performance biennial. It has become one of the most anticipated art events in the country, having reached an international audience of over 70,000 people. With its biennial, Performa has not only changed the course of performance art history, but it has also caused a ripple effect around the world with museums, organizations, and festivals incorporating performance into their programming. Once again, Performa will present its critically acclaimed series of Commissions and Premieres, many by artists who have never worked live before, and will create a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see, hear, and taste the freshest ideas, enjoy new artistic perspectives, and experience New York City like never before.
RoseLee Goldberg, Performa’s Founding Director and Curator, says, “In just five years, Performa has changed people’s minds about the very nature and meaning of artists’ performance. It has shown it to be an inspiring, profound, and accessible platform for exciting new ideas. Performa gives the public a highly selected but broad overview of performance in different disciplines, and, in just three weeks, viewers can come to understand the most important new developments in contemporary art and culture. It is thrilling to work with Performa artists to realize their extraordinary visions.”
Over its three-week run, the Performa Hub, designed by nOffice, will function as the biennial’s headquarters, offering a venue for special performances, screenings, panel discussions, bookshop, lounge, and a visitor information center. To program this year’s biennial, Performa will draw upon the rich cultural landscape of New York City by partnering with over 40 innovative local arts and cultural organizations. Working with this consortium of presenting partners, the biennial will create a lively dialogue through different disciplines working and thinking together. This collaboration creates an exciting cultural atmosphere; a unique cross-pollination think tank with an exchange of ideas, sharing of resources, and new connections between organizations and arts professionals.
Performa Board of Directors Chair Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn adds, “Performa’s biennial will once again transform the landscape of New York and send a jolt of energy throughout the city. Performa 11 will provide a unique opportunity to see live events in all disciplines of the arts. Whether a modest performance or a large-scale production, there is always a sense that you have to be there.”
A central part of Performa’s biennials are its Commissions, which originate exciting new performances by visual artists, many of whom have never worked live before. This year, Performa will present 10 new Performa Commissions by both established and up-and-coming artists. Artists receive unparallel support to realize powerful, intellectually reflective, and artistically innovative works of live performance that vary widely in scale, taking place at venues from a small local bar to a large opera house.
To date, Performa has commissioned 24 projects by 45 artists, including Francis Alÿs (Performa 05); Jesper Just (Performa 05); Sanford Biggers (Performa 07); Isaac Julien (Performa 07); Carols Amorales (Performa 07); Daria Martin (Performa 07); Japanther (Performa 07); Nathalie Djurberg (Performa 07); Christian Jankowski (Performa 07); Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (Performa 09); Mike Kelley (Performa 09); Guy Ben-Ner (Performa 09); Candice Breitz (Performa 09); Omer Fast (Performa 09); Arto Lindsay (Performa 09); Christian Tomaszewski (Performa 09); Yeondoo Jung (Performa 09); and Wangechi Mutu (Performa 09), among others, many of which have gone on to tour internationally. In addition to the Commissions, a series of Performa Premieres and a host of other new work will be shown during the biennial.
HISTORICAL AND RESEARCH THEMES
Along with presenting new work, Performa also provides a link to the past with historical and research themes focusing on performance history from the twentieth century. This year’s research theme, Language, Translation, and Misinformation will investigate the use of language in the field of performance by visual artists versus that of theater actors. The two historical themes, Russian Constructivism (1913–1940s) and Fluxus (1960s) — which both used language in a visual art context — along with the research theme will act as a point of departure for the work selected for the biennial program.
Major support for Performa 11 has been provided by Toby Devan Lewis, Lambent Foundation, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support provided by The Dedalus Foundation, MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Danish Arts Council, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, and the Performa Board of Directors, Performa Producers Circle, and the Performa Visionaries.
Performa, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization established by RoseLee Goldberg in 2004, is 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. In 2005, Performa launched New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, followed by Performa 07 (2007), and Performa 09 (2009). In 2011, Performa will present its fourth biennial, Performa 11 (November 1–20, 2011). For more information, visit www.performa-arts.org.