Performa 11

Performa 11

Running for Hours, Guido van der Werve Visits Rachmaninoff’s Grave

13 Photos

The grave, becked with chamomile flowers.

“Should I give the benediction?” gallerist Roland Augustine asked the nine of us who had gathered on Saturday morning, Nov. 12, outside Luhring Augustine, the Chelsea gallery he runs with Lawrence Luhring. He laughed. “On your mark. Get set. Go!” We bounded east on 23rd Street, carrying a thin bouquet of chamomile flowers in our hands, high-fiving Mr. Luhring down the block, and then, following Dutch artist Guido van der Werve, turned left on Sixth Avenue, toward Central Park.

Mr. van der Werve, 34, outfitted in a black shirt, shorts and knee-high compression socks, was leading us to the grave of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, in Valhalla, New York, a 30-mile trek, for his Performa 11 work. (Chamomiles are Russia’s native flower.) The last time we ran more than 10 miles was about a year ago, and as we ran we realized that trying to participate was a very poor decision. Read More

Performa 11

Who Will Win the Malcolm McLaren Award?

Mr. McLaren. Courtesy Performa

Tonight, at the grand finale of Performa, one of the artists that participated in the performance art biennial will be the recipient of the Malcolm Award, in honor of Malcom McLaren.

McLaren was the manager of the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols and also ran a clothing store for which he never quite settled on a permanent name (it was called Let It Rock, Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die, SEX, Seditionaries and World’s End, respectively). There were other things McLaren accomplished, of course, but those details seem to be the most performative. Read More

Performa 11

Ragnar Kjartansson’s 12-Hour Performance Blissfully Leaves Mozart on Repeat


Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance Bliss had reached the halfway point and the actors were tired. They had been singing the final aria of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro–about four lines and two minutes of music–for six hours and they had six more to go. A conductor stood at the foot of the stage, instructing the 11 actors and 15-piece orchestra with exaggerated movements, thrashing his entire body and flailing his arms high in the air. He was drinking from a glass of red wine. “During the 12 hours,” the program thankfully said, “the audience is welcome to wander in and out of the performance.” Read More

Performa 11

Will Cotton Giveth, and He Taketh Away: A (Very) Truncated Performance About Sex and Candy

The cotton candy. (Photo by Andrew Russeth)

Appropriately, the room smelled like cotton candy during Will Cotton’s Cockaigne, a performance at Prince George Ballroom on Friday night. The audience arrived early to eat pink cotton candy made by about a dozen young women dressed as ballerinas. They washed it down with champagne. This is the kind of celebratory hedonism we have come to expect and appreciate from Mr. Cotton. It was the artist’s first live stage performance, and he had asked John Zorn to compose music and Charles Askegard to choreograph a dance, all inspired by the fluffy candy the audience was munching on. It was billed as a “short ballet.”

We did not know how short.

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Performa 11

Searching for Redemption in Shirin Neshat’s ‘OverRuled’

Shirin Neshat "OverRuled" (2011). Photo by Larry Barns. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery.

Walking into Shirin Neshat’s OverRuled, a 90-minute play presented as part of Performa 11 last weekend at Cedar Lake in Chelsea, there was a feeling hanging in the air that something bad was going to happen. Onstage, about 15 men were shuffling paperwork. They all wore black pants and untucked white shirts, most of them buttoned straight to the top. Seated on the sides of the room were men in military uniforms, though their outfits looked just as much like prison work uniforms. A band sat on stage, dressed all in red. They were playing ominous music that rested somewhere between free jazz and tuning up, never really arriving at a melody or steady rhythm. This went on for some time until two of the men in white shirts shouted “All rise!” The audience did so, but pensively. Read More

Performa 11

Liz Magic Laser Feels Your Pain

Performance still of "I Feel Your Pain" by Liz Magic Laser. (Courtesy the artist and Performa)

The improbably named artist Liz Magic Laser has been watching and reading a lot of political interviews. “The conceit of the political interview,” she told The Observer in her studio in Dumbo, “is that you’re getting to see the real person, that they’re exposing themselves in some way—that this important, influential figure is performing a breach in their performance. I started to look at this as a form of dramaturgy.”

Ms. Laser’s words call to mind the ancient Greeks, who brought theater, oration and representative politics into the world. They could hardly have imagined that the combination of them would result in today’s political circus, where an entire nation tunes in to watch Sarah Palin go hunting, John Boehner cry, the government nearly shut down, the president purchase a dog. Read More