Posts tagged ‘performance art’
April 5, 2010  |  MoMA PS1
100 Years: A History of Performance Art

Installation view of 100 Years at P.S.1. Photo by Matthew Septimus

Performance art is in the middle of an extraordinary resurgence in popularity right now, with groundbreaking performance exhibitions at several institutions in the New York area, including the recent Tino Sehgal show at the Guggenheim Museum, the current Tania Bruguera exhibition at the Neuberger Museum, and of course, The Museum of Modern Art’s Marina Abramović exhibition, The Artist is Present. Performance programming is on the rise at biennials and art fairs around the world, and departments devoted to performance art—such as those at MoMA, Tate Modern, and Centre Georges Pompidou—are increasingly being incorporated into the contemporary art museum.

There is no better way to understand this remarkable material, and the reasons behind its current boom, than to visit 100 Years (version #2, ps1, nov 2009), an exhibition on view now through the end of April at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens.

April 1, 2010  |  Collection & Exhibitions
Joan Jonas: Upon Reflection

Carol Goodden and Gordon Matta-Clark opened Food, on the corner of Prince and Wooster, in the early 1970s. The restaurant, one of the first in Soho, was run by artists and served mostly artists, with the cooking itself becoming a performance of sorts.

The other day I caught up with Joan Jonas at her studio, around the corner from where she first performed MirageAnthology Film Archives’ former Soho location. Forty years ago Soho was inhospitable, even dangerous, with zero amenities. Surrounded by what were then inexpensive, down-and-dirty lofts, Anthology film and video screenings were integral to neighborhood artists’ daily lives. Jonas performed for several nights over a number of weeks in 1976. Her audience included many locals—artist, musician, and dancer friends. They all dined at Food, Gordon Matta-Clark’s wholesome restaurant. Nearby, Richard Foreman presented his Ontologic Hysteric Theater, Jack Smith carried out his midnight events, and Alanna Heiss hosted other happenings on Bleecker Street and at the Clocktower.

Leo Castelli and Ileana Sonnabend had recently launched their Soho galleries at 420 West Broadway, and Jonas later performed at each. Joyce Nereaux directed Castelli-Sonnabend Tapes and Films, and distributed Jonas’s and other visual artists’ media works to museums and art schools. These works leaned towards narrativity. Two blocks away a different media faction congregated at The Kitchen, the alternative space founded by Woody and Steina Vasulka. Artists there knew how to put technical things together.

Documentation Diaries: Re-creating the Performance

Joan Jonas. Mirage (installation details). 1976/1994/2003. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Richard Massey, Clarissa Alcock Bronfman, Agnes Gund, and Committee on Media Funds. Photos: Sydney Briggs

When the Department of Media and Performance Art collects and exhibits time-based media or performance, caring for and properly installing such work is a collaboration between the artist and the Museum. Time-based media commonly uses video, film, audio, and computer programs as platforms for creativity. Often such artwork is digitally based, and it depends upon technology that may become obsolete. In the case of performance art, the ability to re-perform the work mainly relies on the artist’s memory, with the aid of documentation. Both time-based media and performance are therefore mediums in which individual works are often replicated, migrated, or emulated in order to ensure their continued existence.

January 25, 2010  |  Artists, Collection & Exhibitions
Joan Jonas: Synchronicity of Old and New
Yokohama Tobacco Shop

Tobacco shop in Yokohama, Japan. Photo: Azby Brown

At the moment Joan Jonas is on a residency at Kita-Kyushu in western Japan. She has worked in Japan several times since her first visit in 1970, when she bought a portable video camera and began her exploration of media art. The immediacy and reality of video entranced Joan. It was so unlike the stark artificiality of traditional Japanese theater. There, the actors moved at a glacial, mesmerizing pace across a spare stage, and the productions, often stretching over an entire day, made time dissolve. The formality and ritual of Japanese performance became integral to Joan’s work, as can be seen in Mirage, the installation currently on view in the Media Gallery. She wrote that Noh and Kabuki, the two poles-apart forms of traditional Japanese theater, taken together contain every idea that has ever been realized on a stage.