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Ground-breaking performance art commissioned by New York based Performa comes to London
Arto Lindsay, Somewhere I Read, 2009. A Performa 09 Commission. Performance view. Courtesy of Performa. Photo: Paula Court.

LONDON.- A new display opening at the Whitechapel Gallery this September presents significant documentary recordings from the archives of New York based art organisation Performa.

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is dedicated to commissioning and presenting performance art, and exploring its critical role throughout art history. Since 2005 the biennial has commissioned more than 64 new works, presented over 450 artists, and collaborated with numerous curators and institutions to stage cross-disciplinary events involving dance, film, music, architecture and food across New York City including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Bronx Museum, Participant Inc, the Kitchen New York, and Times Square.

Screening footage of over 20 selected commissions that debuted as part of the Performa biennial, this display exhibits significant performance works from the past decade and examines the impact that the organisation has had on the development of live art over the past twelve years. Working closely with artists across mediums, each commission is the product of research and experimentation developed in tandem with Performa’s team of curators to challenge artists to create live performance, often for the first time.

Highlights of the display include Yvonne Rainer’s RoS Indexical (2007), a reworking of Igor Stravinsky’s renowned ballet The Rite of Spring; Mike Kelley’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #32, Plus (2009), referencing the bizarre theatrics of high school revelry; Elmgreen and Dragset’s institutional-critique play entitled Happy Days in the Art World (2011); Ragnar Kjartansson’s twelve hour long performance Bliss (2011); and Oscar Murillo’s Lucky Dip from the most recent biennial in 2015, which critically investigates the development of international trade.

The display also raises questions concerning the preservation of ephemeral arts and how such events are archived and then experienced by audiences retrospectively.

Also on view will be commissions by Edgar Arceneaux, Jérôme Bel, Sanford Biggers, Candice Breitz, iona rozeal brown, Omer Fast, David Hallberg, Christian Jankowski, Isaac Julien, Jesper Just, Wyatt Kahn, Jon Kessler, Arto Lindsay, Liz Magic Laser, Russell Maliphant, Kelly Nipper, Adam Pendleton, Raqs Media Collective, Robin Rhode, Mika Rottenberg, Francesco Vezzoli.

RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Curator of Performa said: “Performa Commissions have created an entirely new chapter in the history of artists’ performance — their long gestation, working with curatorial and production teams, and financial support, has resulted in work that changes how people think of performance art. Furthermore, our films and recordings are made in such a way that their inventiveness and strong visual components can be enjoyed long into the future, for those who were there but also for those seeing it for the first time. These resources allow us to study the material in great detail through repeated viewings, extending and expanding the experience of the original performance.”

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