Today Performa announced another batch of premieres and commissions today for its upcoming, three-week performance festival, Performa 15, which will take place in various locations around New York City in November. This year’s Performa asks its commissioned artists to respond to the legacy of the Renaissance.
The commissions announced today will come from Edgar Arceneaux, Wyatt Kahn, and Oscar Murillo. Arceneaux’s performance, the Los Angeles–based artist’s first-ever live one, is based on a number performed by Broadway actor Ben Vereen at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural ball. Vereen controversially appeared in blackface, and, due to the racially charged nature of the performance, it was never aired on television. Arceneaux’s performance, titled Until, Until, Until…, will investigate why that is.
Kahn also draws on history for his performance, which combines his paintings with a puppet show and alludes to Renaissance theater traditions. A puppet version of the New York–based artist himself will appear in this work.
Murillo’s performance is the most shadowy of the three. The press release notes that it will be held at “an important historical site in downtown Manhattan,” will involve collaborating with the audience, and little else.
Ulla von Brandenburg, Erika Vogt, and Heather Phillipson will also have works premiering at Performa. Von Brandenburg will make a site-specific film installation about the rituals of the Saint Simonian movement, which may have ultimately influenced the development of Socialism. The French artist’s black-and-white film, done in one take, will further investigate the movement’s interest in liberty and equality.
Vogt’s work is perhaps the most starry work of the bunch—it will be a stage for a live exhibition that includes work by fellow Los Angeles–based artists Math Bass, Shannon Ebner, and MPA. Self-reflexively titled Artist Theater Program, Vogt’s work will look at how artists’ work can exist together within a space to create a utopian community.
Phillipson’s FINAL DAYS will use six videos to recreate the feeling of being overwhelmed while shopping. The videos form a sequence that mimics how objects are packaged, stacked, and sold to consumers. Live poetry will be performed with the installation.
“Since we work so closely with each Performa artist over an extensive period of time, and since each work has such a particular genesis and direction, each project feels like a one-person show,” RoseLee Goldberg, the founding director and curator of Performa, said in a statement. “Hence our approach to rolling out announcements of artists in the biennial, a small group at a time. It gives the artists and the curators working with them the chance to prepare audiences for the unusual depth and complexity of this material, as well as a way of understanding each artist’s unique approach to ‘the live.’”