Performa Biennial 2021
October 12-13, 2021
Performa, the internationally organization dedicated to live interdisciplinary performance by visual artists, is pleased to announce the ninth edition of its city-wide biennial, which will take place entirely outdoors with a program of new live commissions conceived for New York City, exploring its history, communities, and urban environment. Presented a month earlier than usual to accommodate its outdoor focus, the Performa 2021 Biennial will take place across the city from October 12-31, 2021.
Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa has expanded the possibilities for visual artists working in performance, providing essential curatorial and production support, and, with its dedicated biennial, providing a worldwide platform for performance of the 21st century.
The first Performa Biennial in 2005 was an effort to bring the creative community together to celebrate the making of live performance in all its forms and to reconnect after the difficult years following 9/11. Sixteen years after, the Biennial will return to one of the original impulses of Performa to celebrate the grass roots of pioneering art in New York City and once again focus entirely on the artists and cultural landscape of the city. The Performa 2021 Biennial will be a positive, revivifying force in New York City, with a program that highlights the energy and inventiveness of all who live here. The city, greatly affected by the pandemic, will gradually emerge as a different place, in which the details of our everyday lives and the larger social infrastructure have been reshaped. These shifts, and the economic implications, have dramatically altered the way arts organization’s create meaningful experiences for audiences and opportunities for a diverse range of artists.
Since its founding, Performa has transformed the intersection of contemporary art and the performing arts changing the understanding of performance by visual artists across disciplines and making artists directly accessible to the public. Performa has produced eight biennials, reaching an international audience of over 250,000 people and featuring more than 700 artists at 200 plus venues across New York City. Throughout each Biennial, Performa has consistently engaged with the city as a stage. Examples include Rashid Johnson‘s restaging of Amiri Baraka’s iconic play Dutchman grappling with racial violence, set inside the iconic Turkish Baths in the East Village; Barbara Kruger‘s now legendary installation inside of the Coleman/LES Skate Park under the Manhattan Bridge; and Samson Young‘s contemporary opera performed on giant mechanical cranes inside Castle Williams on Governors Island.
The Performa 2021 Biennial will continue this legacy with a series of new live outdoor commissions by Kevin Beasley, Ericka Beckman, Sara Cwynar, Danielle Dean, Madeline Hollander, Andrés Jaque (Office for Political Innovation), Tschabalala Self, and Shikeith. The program will bring together numerous U.S.-based artists to consider the changes the city is going through – culturally, socially, spatially, racially, and politically – and imagine powerful futures for its population. Performa will use the parks and streets to animate the city and its communities as imaginatively as they have done in the past. As well as working outdoors, many projects will also use broadcast as their medium expanding on Performa TV, Performa Radio, Performa’s online exhibition program Radical Broadcast, and the recent live-broadcast Performa Telethon.
Performa 2021 is organized by RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Chief Curator, Esa Nickle, Managing Director and Executive Producer, Kathy Noble, Senior Curator and Head of Curatorial Affairs, Charles Aubin, Curator and Head of Publications, Job Piston, Associate Curator at Large, Sasha Okshteyn, Senior Producer and Brittany Richmond, Assistant Curator and Director’s Office.
Performa Commissions are supported by Founding Patron Toby Devan Lewis and the Performa Commissioning Council. The Performa 2021 Biennial program is supported with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and The New YorkState Council on the Arts.