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Since the first Performa Biennial in 2005 New York City has always been the star of the show. We dedicated all our efforts to commissioning and supporting artists to create startling new work for the new century, and to collaborating with curators in cultural venues up, down, and across Manhattan, and boroughs beyond, with the firm intention of putting a spotlight on the city as the performance capital of the world.
Performance today in no way escapes this contemporary condition of customized reality; it exists in a constant state of arbitration between live experience and documentation. Through phone video recording and ricochets of likes and shares, performance no longer stands fully apart from our endless deluge of social media.
In a recent conversation, the artist Tschabalala Self told me that the best performances shed ever seen were on the New York City subway. Freestyle subway dancers are my personal favorite in this genre. Groups of mostly young Black men glide up and down the thin space of the carriage with athletic dexterity in between commuters sitting on plastic seats, swinging off the ceiling rails and spinning around the poles to music.
Danielle Dean collaborates with online gig workers to create a live performance that revisits the history of Fordlândia, a short-lived rubber plantation established by Henry Ford in the Amazon in the 1920s.
Ericka Beckman reimagines the fairytale Jack and the Beanstalk as a contemporary anti-capitalist proposition that relates to the current situation around industrial farming.
Sounding Board is an experimental play about performativityperformativity in this context relating to all actions that are done for the edification of others or for the social advancement of ones public facing self.
notes towards becoming a spill is a semi-autobiographical, experimental opera performed at the shore of the Atlantic ocean. It is a narrative revealed through the dancing body about transformation and the histories that haunt Black queer men.
Before the pandemic hit I had been in production creating a large-scale performance featuring dancers from companies all over New York City who would come together on one stage to present works that were just about to premierefuture choreographies that they were in the process of rehearsing but had not yet reached the stage or a public audience.
Sara Cwynars Down at the Arcade is a stream-of-consciousness performance of different tasks leading to the construction of a big new image. The piece features photographs and objects moving on conveyor belts and pulleys, mixed with voiceover and musical interludes.
Architect Andrés Jaque presents a sound performance that invites spectators to sensorially experience the interconnection of New York with its neighboring territories.
Kevin Beasleys The Sound of Morning combines every aspect of his work to datesculpture, sound, performance, and site specificityin one totality. Staged at the crossroads of two Manhattan streets on the Lower East Side, Beasley plays the sounds of movement, object, and siteinserting sculptures made using everyday and industrial materials and objects, and performersby using contact mics to magnify the faint noises that usually disappear into the white noise of Manhattan, creating a sonic sculpture.