Performa 13

Wild Wild West: Marianne Vitale’s ‘The Missing Book of Spurs’ Hits Performa


“We’re distilling our own moonshine in bronze-casted douche bags,” artist Marianne Vitale called over her shoulder as she strode out of the room, carrying one of the unwieldy items in question. About a dozen metal sculptures, their snaky tubes twisting up toward the heavens, were resting atop a century-old wooden bar in the back room of Ms. Vitale’s Long Island City studio. It was exactly two weeks before tonight’s premiere of The Missing Book of Spurs, her Performa biennial commission, and she was working on the set with her assistant. The sculptures didn’t belong there, Ms. Vitale decided, and so she moved the hefty things to a table in the adjacent workshop, a maze of saws and salvaged lumber. She dubbed the arrangement “a clusterfuck of douche bags.” Not quite an exaltation of larks, but it had a certain ring to it. Read More

Performa 13

Feast Your Eyes: Subodh Gupta Cooks Up a Performa Commission


For an artist who’s never performed before, eight days of cooking dinner for 50 to 60 people is a demanding way to start. “It hasn’t been easy,” said Subodh Gupta, whose paintings and sculptures often address the food and utensils of Indian kitchens. “It’s been very tough.” Last night’s meal, a commissioned piece for Performa 13 that runs through Nov. 16, was about to begin at 168 Bowery, an old subway station turned pop-up event space. Mr. Gupta, casually outfitted in a black puffy vest over a colorful T-shirt and violet glasses, had been preparing the five-course feast since 11 a.m. Read More

Performa 13

‘There Is Only One Karl!’

Holmqvist and Goldsmith. (Photos by The New York Observer)

The fifth edition of Performa, New York’s performance art biennial, is in full swing right now, which means there are ample opportunities just about every night to see art types engaged in some fairly unusual behavior. On Monday night, curator Matthew Higgs could be found at the West Village alternative space that he directs, White Columns, sporting a yellow safety vest emblazoned on its back with the visage of Karl Marx. He was helping to stage a fashion show by the artist Rainer Ganahl called “Comme des Marxistes.” Read More


Keeping It Surreal: Melvin Van Peebles, DJ Spooky, More at Performa’s ‘Black Surrealism’ Conference

The after party. (The New York Observer)

“Surreal” is a slippery word. No longer used to refer exclusively to the art movement that began in the 1920s, the term is tossed around as a synonym for “dreamlike” or “bizarre.” It has been so stripped of its subversive content that reality television has even co-opted it (see The Surreal Life, which documented a bunch of has-been celebrities living together—there were meltdowns, but they were nothing like Dalí’s clocks). Read More


Performa to Examine the Art World’s Fascination With Dance

Sarah Michelson, "Devotion," 2011. Photo: Paula Court. (Courtesy

On Sept. 17, Performa will present “Why Dance in the Art World?” The event explores the “history and future of the art world’s interest in dance.” Jennifer Homans, author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet, will introduce the topic, followed by a panel discussion with choreographer Ralph Lemon, Artforum‘s David Velasco, MoMA curator Jenny Schlenzka, moderated by Performa’s founder, RoseLee Goldberg. Read More


Performa Hosts Sparkling First Benefit Auction

RoseLee Goldberg at the Performa Benefit with Mike Kelly print in background (Courtesy Rozalia Jovanovic)

“I tell you how much money to spend, and you spend it,” said Sara Friedlander standing on a podium in a gold-sequin skirt and a jean shirt tied at her waist. “It’s like I tell my husband.” Ms. Friedlander, a post-war and contemporary art specialist at Christie’s, was moonlighting last night as an auctioneer at Performa’s first benefit auction.

The benefit for Performa, which organizes a performance art biennial in New York, was held at the Flag Art Foundation’s Chelsea gallery, which was filled with sun for almost the entire evening as guests sampled porcini mushroom pastry puffs and endive spears filled with crab salad while surveying the works at auction by artists like Mike Kelley, Laurie Simmons, Christian Marclay and Shirin Neshat, among many others. A black crown fashioned from black leather and rhinestone studded stars, by Rashaad Newsome, sparkled in the sunlight streaming in from the balcony. A dancer with the Trisha Brown Company said he had bid on the Marclay piece, a torn corner of a page from a comic book. Read More


The Kid Stays in the Picture: Interviewing Ryan McNamara, and Becoming an Artwork

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"The Haunting" (with Raphael Castoriano, Charles Kessler, Ju Hae Park, Helene Safdie, Joey Syta), 2012.

It is all but unheard of for an artist to become a fixture in the New York art world without having had any solo gallery exhibitions, the normal route to becoming well known. The artist Ryan McNamara, however, has managed to do this. Much of his production so far has consisted of short-lived performances that happened and were gone so swiftly that his reputation rests mostly on documentation produced after the fact. These performances have taken place in disparate locations ranging from gay bars to the Louis Vuitton store, to the woods outside the Watermill Center on Long Island. For one piece, Make Ryan a Dancer, part of MoMA PS1’s “Greater New York” survey in 2010, he spent six months taking dance lessons in the museum, a conflation of durational performance (he actually was learning how to dance) and practicality (he actually wanted to learn how to dance). His first solo exhibition in a gallery, currently at Elizabeth Dee, is both a reference to and an extension of his career to date. Read More