Performa, the organisation dedicated to promoting and provoking new work in the field of live performance, celebrates 10 years of its Performa Biennial with a programme of events across New York City which continues its mission to be a “museum without walls.” Following the Performa Biennial tradition of using a historic movement or moment as a starting point to inspire new creative responses, this year’s event takes the Renaissance as its theme.
For three packed weeks, Performa 15 will spread out across the city, aiming to develop an entirely new approach to the urban setting as a 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 artists in the biennial, Performa hope the city will become the “performance capital of the world,” building on its remarkable artistic history since the 1960s, and especially the idea of “downtown” as a magnet for avant-garde artists from across disciplines and around the world.
The historical resemblances and precedents of the Renaissance to today’s artistic performances provide a fertile area of investigation , drawing attention to the role of artists at that time as makers of live works such as pageants, triumphal processions, court fetes, fireworks, royal marriage celebrations and allegorical tableaux. Collaborative, interdisciplinary, and site-specific, these public activities also communicated the politics and philosophy of the powerful patrons who sponsored them. “Even Leonardo da Vinci created performances,” says curator and Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg.
While looking back on the historic role of performance in art, Performa 15 looks to the future, reflecting on a broad range of approaches and showing a depth and variety of material that continues to open new possibilities. “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,” says Goldberg.
Past Performa commissions have included Jesper Just’s True Love Is Yet to Come, and Ryan McNamara’s Meem: A Story Ballet About the Internet. 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.
Performa 15, 1-22 November, various venues, New York City.
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1. Performa 05 – Laurie Simmons, Music of Regret, Act 3.