Art and Dance
One evening in mid September, some 300 people packed into the Judson Memorial Church for a panel discussion on the rise of dance in the art world. About midway through, Ralph Lemon dropped a bomb: “I wait,” he said, “for the day when a museum acquires a dance.”
Mr. Lemon, a dancer and visual artist who prefers to be called simply a “conceptualist,” didn’t mean the sweat-stained costumes, sets and other ephemera that are often the only relics to prove that a dance has happened, but instead something far more controversial: the dance itself—the, as he put it, “performance as object.”
“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.
Last week, artist Clifford Owens told The Observer in an interview that he planned to force a sex act on an audience member for his final performance at MoMA PS1. The performance, based on a score written by artist Kara Walker, called for French kissing an audience member and demanding sex. He had performed it several times during his 10-month residency at the museum, and planned to take the performance further and to break out of a comfort zone he had settled into. In response to the news of Mr. Owens’s plans, which we shared in search of comment, Ms. Walker responded via email that she wasn’t aware of his plans for his final performance and stated, “If he goes through with it he leaves no room for imagination or freedom of choice.” The next day, when she withdrew her involvement from Mr. Owens’s performance, demanding, via email, that he “cease and desist” from using her score, The Observer found itself an unwitting participant in the evolution of that last performance.
The artist Kara Walker had a surprise cameo today in Clifford Owens’s last performance in his exhibition “Anthology” at MoMA PS1. It was a resolution, it seemed, of what began unfolding last week when Mr. Owens made known to Gallerist in an interview his intention to force a sex act on an audience member during his last performance in accordance with a set of instructions Ms. Walker had given to him to enact. Yet, while Ms. Walker had supplied the instructions, or a “score” as Mr. Owens calls them (as did 27 other artists) she had no idea, we learned from her in an email, that he planned to take her instructions so literally for this performance, instructions which read, in part, “Force them against a wall and demand Sex.” As a result, she called off her involvement with the performance. Thus, when the door opened today and Ms. Walker appeared and walked slowly toward Mr. Owens, the performance, we knew, had taken a turn no one could have expected.
As Performa 11, the fourth edition of New York’s performance art biennial, unfolds over the first three weeks of November, Gallerist will be reporting on the events as they happen, and publishing frequent reviews of what we see. We invite you to read our ongoing coverage, organized by the day of the event we attended, in the articles below. This list will be regularly updated throughout the month. Details for upcoming events are available on Performa 11′s website.
Performance art fans, start planning your November. Performa 11, New York’s performance art biennial, today announced its full slate of events, which will run from Nov. 1 through Nov. 21. Tickets are now available for the epic array of events.
Festivities kick off on Nov. 1, with the debut performance of Danish duo Elmgreen & Read More