The Official Art F City Performa 13 Guide

by Whitney Kimball on October 31, 2013 Preview

Tori Wraanes, "Nature Enough?" Image courtesy of

Thanks to Performa, we’re looking forward to a month of actual art—hopefully with less of a commercial focus than we’re used to seeing around New York. Given Performa’s ability to identify great artists, its depth of historical engagement, and the independent nature of performance art, you’re bound to find some great work this month. It’s also humongous (for better or worse). You need our guide.

What Looks Good

1. Tori Wrånes: Yes Nix

Tori Wrånes has been exhibiting at Scandinavian museums and kunsthalles for a decade (Performa describes her as “one of Norway’s leading artists”), so her New York debut seems long overdue. Norway is also this year’s “pavilion country,” so consider this an introduction to Norway. If Wranes’s past work is any indication of what to look for this year, her performance should not be missed. In a review of her 2012 performance “Spin Echo”, we learn that she transformed the parking lot of the Los Angeles Disney Concert Hall with a simple but beautiful ethereal concert, performed on bikes. Other works veer toward extreme stunts, like playing a grand piano on the side of a cliff, and hanging from a tree by her hair.

Friday, November 22, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 23, 7:30 pm
SIR Stage 37, 508 West 37th Street MAP

Image from Jerome Bel and Theater HORA's "Disabled Theater". (Image courtesy of

2. Jérôme Bel and Theater HORA: Disabled Theater

Disabled Theater has been described as both a smash hit and controversy at Documenta 13. The French choreographer Jérôme Bel has partnered with Theater HORA, a Zurich-based theater company of professional actors with learning disabilities. Bel directs eleven performers to create a series of tasks which are intended to reveal a larger story about human nature and relationships. Apparently Theater HORA proposed the partnership, though some of the troupe’s family members find Bel’s work exploitative. According to reviewer Liz Brown, it was “the event that everyone had an opinion about”. That makes it a must-see in our books.

Tuesday, November 12, 7:30 pm
Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm
Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm
Friday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 16, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 17, 3:00 pm
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street MAP
$15 – $40

3. Akademia Ruchu: The Market of Toys

If you’re looking for something that engages more directly with the world outside, then Akademia Ruchu (the Academy of Movement) will be your event. The collective has been an important voice in Polish political commentary since the 1970s, with public performances that respond to totalitarian repression. What do they have to say about American politics? Find out with this new work made for Times Square.

Friday, November 8, 12:00 pm
Saturday, November 9, 12:00 pm
Broadway Plaza between 46th & 47th St MAP

4. Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade: 24 Hour Ballad

The LA-based performance trio/band “My Barbarian” has been staging fantasy/camp performances all over the place since the nineties. If you like DIY art-making with a focus on play—dressing up like Socialist mermaids on the edge of the Hirschhorn fountain, for example—then you’ll jump on the opportunity to see two out of three of them perform. As part of their Recess residency, Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade will improvise a narrative folk ballad in a 24-hour marathon collaboration with artists and musicians.

(24 hrs) Fri Nov 15, 12pm to Sat Nov 16, 12pm
Recess MAP

Bonus: This tribute to drag performer Conrad Ventur at Participant Inc doesn’t come with a description yet, but based on similar events, we expect this to be in the keeping-it-real-on-a-low-budget end of the spectrum.

Ryan McNamara’s performance about meme culture might also fit that bill. If it’s anything like his previous performances, it will generate a lot of enthusiasm.

Einat Amir's 2009 "Ideal Viewer" (phase one) (Image courtesy of

Artists To Watch

1. Einat Amir: Our Best Intentions

Performa 09 veteran Emat Amir has broken the fourth wall; now she’s breaking the fifth one. In “Our Best Intentions,” viewers will play out a live, interactive therapy session in a family lounge, a bedroom, a study, and a dining room. Participants are encouraged to divulge personal, unresolved issues in a closed session with strangers. This one’s for the bold.

Tuesday, November 12, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, November 13, 6:30 pm
Friday, November 15, 6:30 pm
Saturday, November 16, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, November 19, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, November 20, 6:30 pm
Thursday, November 21, 6:30 pm
Friday, November 22, 6:30 pm
Saturday, November 23, 6:30 pm
Presented by Artis at Affirmation Arts, 523 W 37th MAP
Free with reservation Free with RSVP

2. Michael Bell-Smith, Sara Magenheimer, and Ben Vida: Bloopers #0

Michael Bell-Smith and Sara Magenheimer have honed a brand of stock image poetry which we think might gel well with Ben Vida’s sparse sensibility with experimental noise and synth.  As the dance-pop band “Bloopers,” they’ll explore how music functions socially. This also means dance party. Commissioned by Triple Canopy.
Thursday, November 21, 9:00 pm
Four81, 481 Broadway, floor 4 MAP
$5 on the door

3. Cally Spooner: And You Were Wonderful, On Stage

Cally Spooner’s recent work includes feature-length scripts, which play with experimental writing structure and indirect dialogue, so this may interest writers and playwrights more than casual art viewers. The new musical And You Were Wonderful, On Stage draws on Broadway conventions with 18 a capella singers. Expect this to be dense and nuanced.

On the fence: Tameka Norris will cut her tongue and run it along the wall. This might have to do with good timing, since a lot of people happen to be falling in love with Chris Burden again, but it’s also the best-looking Performa event at the Studio Museum (at least it’s angry). Plus, I’m both repulsed and weirdly drawn to Norris’s Alex Bag-style video confessionals throughout her four semesters at Yale.

Senga Nengudi isn’t exactly a rising star; she’s been making work for decades and will continue a series from the 1970s, “RSVP,” in which her collaborator Maren Hassinger moved through a wall-mounted sculpture of pantyhose. A version of this work appeared in “Now Dig This!” last year.

Alexandre Singh's "The Humans" (Image courtesy of

Biggest Spectacle

1. Alexandre Singh: The Humans

What else would you expect from Alexandre Singh, who was partly responsible for Hello Meth Lab In the Sun? Since then, he’s apparently continued a track record of sleek, spectacle-heavy artworks. This one should be no different– it’s a surrealist play modeled on the Greek comedy of poet Aristophanes, and it’s co-sponsored by Performa and BAM. Their joint approval, though, is a good reason to see it. (And you’re not actually going to see it, because it’s already sold out).

Wednesday, November 13, 7:30 pm
Thursday, November 14, 7:30 pm
Friday, November 15, 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 16, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 17, 3:00 pm
BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn MAP

Image for Philippe Quesne's "Bivouac" (Courtesy of

2. Philippe Quesne: Bivouac

How could a bus tour around Red Hook be a spectacle? It might if it’s done by Philippe Quesne, founder of the set design company Vivarium Studio. We’re told that Philippe Quesne will be your guide to the unusual features of Red Hood harbor, after which, you’ll be taken to a “highly theatrical location”. Is it a film set????

Saturday, November 2, 5:00 pm
Saturday, November 2, 8:00 pm
Sunday, November 3, 5:00 pm
Sunday, November 3, 8:00 pm
360 Smith Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn MAP

3. Pawel Althamer: Biba Performa

“What will Pawel Althamer do next?” is a question people tend to ask about the well-exhibited Polish artist Pawel Althamer. He does things like make a trail to nowhere, travels around neighborhoods in golden suits, or a goat costume, as a way of addressing national identity, and possibilities. These are a little didactic for our tastes, but given the public setting and likely scale of the upcoming work, it may be the most visible work at Performa. Althamer plans to “create a sense of possibility” for Brooklyn’s ethnic groups with a large-scale public work.

Friday, November 1 — Sunday, November 17
Biba, 110 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 MAP

Bonus: Eddie Peake play, Rashid Johnson at the Russian bath houses, virtuoso black midi-level piano player Pete Drungle

Tadeusz Kantor – La Classe Muerta (Dead Class) by Bodhisattva1956

Tributes and Lectures:

1. Joanna Zielińska: Cricoteka: Can Objects Perform?

In an evening at the Performa hub, Joanna Zielińska will demonstrate the powerful influence Polish artist and avant garde theater director Tadeusz Kantor, who’s especially known for his “Theater of Death” pieces like “The Dead Class”. See if you can find similarities with Shana Moulton, whose work is the lead image.

Thursday, November 21, 6:00 pm
Performa Hub, 13 Crosby Street MAP

2. Joanna Warsza: Lecture: Public Art in Poland After the Fall of the Wall

Curator Joanna Warsza lectures on how Polish art evolved post-Communism. A few of the subjects like Akademia Ruchu and Pawel Althamer are performing in Performa 13. Usually I’m not prone to go to biennale lectures, but this one seems like a crash course that’s too important and rare to miss.
Thursday, November 7, 2:00 pm
Performa Hub MAP

Bonus: For those interested in New York’s recent avant-garde history, “Documenting Free Speech” should be a must. It’ll include footage from a Judson Dance Theater performance of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A as a Vietnam War protest and footage from the Gay Cable Network archive.

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