In her groundbreaking book Performance Art: From Futurism To The Present (1979), art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg showed that performance is central to the history of 20th century art. In 2005 she launched Performa 05, the first biennial of visual art performance, and predicted that performance would become “the medium of the 21st century.” Indeed, its time has come.
Museums around the world are establishing performance art departments, including most recently New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and several museums currently being built will include dedicated performance spaces. Moreover, following Performa’s lead, biennials worldwide are making performance integral to their programs. Performance Now is an exhibition that shows how performance has come to be at the center of the discussion on the latest developments in contemporary art and culture. The first decade of the 21st century has seen the emergence of a true globalism in the art world, with an ever-expanding map of knowledge and an understanding of cultural developments around the world. Full immersion in historical, political and religious subtexts of a broad range of cultures is now demanded of artists, curators and audiences. Additionally there has been an increased focus on the complexities of displaying, collecting, preserving and explaining conceptual material that had so profoundly shaped artistic developments in the final decades of the twentieth century, yet which, paradoxically, was ephemeral and almost invisible. At the same time contemporary performance is activating the museum, drawing new and young audiences to these institutions.
Performance Now is made up of objects, ephemera, sound and video, including material from a number of key Performa commissions, and works originating from around the world including South Africa, China, Eastern Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. In addition, venues have the option to work with Performa to develop a performance program to coincide with their presentations.
RoseLee Goldberg’s seminal study, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (first published in 1979 and now in its third edition) is regarded as the leading text for understanding the development of the genre and has been translated into more than ten languages, including Chinese, Croatian, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. When director of the Royal College of Art (RCA) Gallery in London, Goldberg established a program that pioneered an integrative approach to curating exhibitions, performance, and symposia, directly involving the various departments of the RCA in all aspects of the exhibitions program. As curator at The Kitchen in New York she continued to advocate for multi-disciplinary practices to have equal prominence by establishing the exhibition space, a video viewing room, and a performance series. Most recently, her vision in the creation of Performa has set a precedent for performance art that is now impacting museum programming and diverse audiences across the U.S. and abroad. In 2010 she was awarded the ICI Agnes Gund Curatorial Award and in 2006 named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.
Number of artists: Approximately 28
Number of works: Approximately 35-40
Space required: 3,500-4,500 square feet, plus performance space if live performance is to be added
Tour dates: September 2012 through September 2014