“Turn on, tune in, …..”

BOREDOM!!! (as an amplifier), was recently featured in a NY Times article by Claudia La Rocco. The article is about PERFORMA and the blurring of various forms in performance work being created these days.

I found the article to be a great read and was happy that Claudia used recent New York dance performances as examples of this blurring and challenging between various mediums.

Although PERFORMA features dance performances and dance related happenings, including a number of events surrounding/exploring the influence of Judson Dance Theater, the New York dance scene was largely disregarded by the curatorial team. This is a disappointing move especially considering that PERFORMA director, RoseLee Goldberg, states that PERFORMA is trying “to open the doors and windows between the dance and art world, to find the conceptual underpinnings where there could be a crossover.” She continues to ask “How come this conversation was so profound and rich in the ’60s and ’70s?” “Can we reinstigate that?” I would challenge her that this crossover is happening and very active right now. But if RoseLee hopes to open doors between these worlds, I wonder aloud how this is going to happen when a large and active scene of dance artists based in the same city as PERFORMA is pretty much ignored…

The Kitchen‘s executive director and chief curator, Debra Singer, seems to also think this crossover between the dance and visual art worlds is lacking. She is quoted in the NY Times article as saying “There seems to be little time spent either studying or taking in things that might be just to the left or the right of your primary interest,” “In New York, we’re so blessed with so much that you can indulge your primary passion.” “At the artist and audience level, almost ironically, it can perpetuate a kind of parochialism.”

I would love to see more of a crossover between the two forms in regards to economy.

But as far as artists being interested and collaborating I think that is alive and active.

I drafted a short list of recent New York performances/collaborations where this blurring/collaboration has been fertile.

Luciana Achugar collaborating with Michael Mahalchick

Maria Hassabi collaborating with Marcos Rosales, Scott Lyall and THREEasFOUR

Ei Arakawa working with students from the Martha Graham School

robbinschilds (Sonya Robbins and Layla Childs) collaborating A.L. Steiner

Dean Moss collaborating with Laylah Ali

RoseAnne Spradlin collaborating with Glen Fogel

Miguel Gutierrez collaborating with Christoph Draeger

The collaborations between Chris Peck and Charles Atlas

The work of Fritz Welch

The work of Julie Tolentino

Mike Pride / Drummers Corpse

The work of Jillian Pena

The work of lower lights collective and it’s individual artists (Matt Bauder , Aki Sasamoto, Lily Skove, Kate Ten Eyck, Dan St. Clair, and Arturo Vidich)

The collaborations between Okkyung Lee and Andrew Lampert

Sam Kim‘s recent show had visual artists as performers.

The work of Sarah Michelson

Trajal Harrell collaboration with assume vivid astro focus

The work of Eagle Ager

The work of Vlatka Horvat

The work of lucky dragons

Noémie Lafrance video for Feist

The work of Julia Mandle

Melinda Ring collaborations with Martin Kersels

The work of Claude Wampler

The work of the New Humans

The work of Michael Portnoy

This is an incomplete list.

It seems to me that the real door that needs to open is the conversation between artists and curators.

And to famously quote Timothy Leary from the 60’s maybe curators need to “Turn on, tune in, …..”

13 responses to ““Turn on, tune in, …..”

  1. I appreciate your list and your challenge. i think too, in a different vein perhaps, of DD Dorvillier’s piece at the Kitchen last January, in terms conceptualism and visual inclination or attention. In a different way, again, of Jennifer Monson’s recent work at a reservoir in Queens. Perhaps I’m not following your train of thought, but adding that the production of dance, some dance, in itself brings a lot of the forms conventions into question and blurs border lines. I agree that it’s an alive exchange and more so than a decade ago, a shared field of preoccupations between dance and other arts — visual specifically.
    There has also being a lot of acknowledgment by the artists themselves of the cross referencing and influences going on. I know Levi Gonzalez, Luciana Achugar, Tere O’Connor, to name only a few have made reference to this in conversations at Critical Correspondence (www.movementresearch.org/publishing).

  2. hey chase, thanks for the shout out, and i am totally with you. though i am interested in a lot of what has been programmed for performa (sadly i wont be in ny to actually see any of it and see if i really like it), i totally agree that there is a shocking lack of ny representation. but then dancers dancing (oh no!) is the dirty little goblin that is best kept under the carpet, isnt it? as if we all pop out of the womb ready to assimilate and understand contemporary art. and as if its relevance and universality (read: “non-parochialness”) is a foregone conclusion that has nothing to do with education, history, the fascination with the object (and in the case of performance art, the idea as object) or, perhaps most importantly, money, as you so deftly stated. no, we´re just these dunces who go to galleries, museums, read, talk, write, and then process our ideas in our bodies and sometimes with, again, oh no! movement. i am so bored by these conversations in a way. so bored by knowing that so many visual artists (or curators) cant name ten contemporary choreographers working in new york, though i think most of my peer artists are pretty hip to other scenes. oh well. xo mg

  3. This is an important discussion that I’m very passionate about. I would like to see the dialogue reach a broader public.

    I am a choreographer who, funny enough, has a double degree in visual and media art (not dance), and I run an arts space where mixed disciplines can slip, combine, talk to one another, or explode if needed: http://www.chezbushwick.net

    Referring to the 1960s and 1970s as a hotbed of experimentation may be valid, but as a lens for where dance might exist today, this is simply not rigorous enough. To use the same canonical references, repeatedly, is the actual parochialism at play here.

    It is a hectic provincialism to say that dance and visual art do not crossover today. In addition to the list represented above, it is equally frustrating (yet typical) to see the 1960s as the cut-off period for this discussion. I am speaking from the perspective of having Merce Cunningham and Robert Wilson as primary employers: these artists are still ahead of their time, and yet align with (or pre-date) many of the time periods in question above. But while these artists’ work is far more visual than what may now be in vogue, they are dismissed as known quantities that could never act as forces of the avant-garde today. Cunningham’s pioneering work with motion capture, 3D animation as a tool to visually animate dance, costume-as-prosthesis, and even his hand-made drawings (which are shown in galleries, as Wilson’s work is represented by Paul Cooper Gallery) are but a few examples.

    So: if up and coming generations of dance artists AND older established masters are being marginalized by this discussion, that’s quite astonishing. And I think we have a lot of work to do.

    I’d also like to bring attention to a show coming up called “A Choreographed Exhibition,” which brings 8 choreographers into the gallery space of Kunsthalle St. Gallen for a presentation of choreography in a visual art context. Curated by Mathieu Copeland, who also curated a show for PERFORMA, the exhibit includes the following people:

    Fia Backstrom
    Jonah Bokaer
    Philippe Egli
    Karl Holmqvist
    Jennifer Lacey
    Roman Ondak
    Michael Parsons
    Michael Portnoy

    Lastly, to open this up even further, the curatorial team at PERFORMA is very responsive to feedback, and they call artists personally to discuss dance programming, film programming, etc.

    RoseLee Goldberg, Debra Singer, and Claudia La Rocco should be contacted and brought into the discussion, because their perspectives have been addressed.

  4. Pingback: Culturebot » dance and visual art, performa, etc.

  5. thanks chase, yeah, performa sure does not seem to be succeeding as a media-crossover catalyst … I think that Claudia LaRocco seized on “crossover” as an idea to pin her article on and tried to describe performa only through that lens.

    i do think it is successful as a “biennial of visual art performance” (which it uses as a sort of subtitle)

    although some performing artists are included, the festival focuses on performance by visual artists … not so much performing artists collaborating with visual artists, or performing artists working with visual arts, or any of the other permutations you referred to in your list. i dunno… is RoseLee Goldberg serious about crossover being a part of performa’s mission?

    and I honestly think ignorance is probably the biggest issue here — I’ve seen RoseLee a lot at BAM, but not even once at smaller venues (although who knows – maybe we have opposite schedules). i just don’t think she knows what emerging experimental new york artists are up to these days.

    anyway, I’d love for you to put your thoughts in a letter to Ms. Goldberg & LaRocco…

    and lastly: i’m so glad we have performa. i’m so glad we have this discussion.

  6. I am very excited that a conversation has begun. I don’t have the time today to organize my thoughts but I do have responses to a lot of what has been said. I really hope that this conversation can continue… I am still hoping that RoseLee Goldberg and Debra Singer will join in (I have invited them as well as other members of their staffs). Claudia La Rocco has joined in. You can read her comments at http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/01/performa-07-scarcity-among-the-riches/

    I do want to quickly say that I am excited about many of the performances that are part of PERFORMA and hope to attend quite a few. But if some people think that PERFORMA is about visual artists working with performance, why then is the work of many choreographers ( from the 60s or from Europe) being shown?

  7. Hey… RoseLee Goldberg is on WNYC right now talking to Leonard Lopate


  8. i dont know what to say other than thank you for bringing this up.

    I am truly excited about much of the work that will be presented in Performa, as are many of my dance-making peers. I also wish that interest and curiosity in the work of visual artists and European choreographers were a bit more reciprocal. I also find it simplistic to talk about the period of the 60’s and 70’s as THE period of experimentation in contemporary dance. I see a fetishization of this moment in the history of NY experimental dance, and I sometimes wonder if the blessing of the wealthier art world on the dance scene at that time is why it remains so visible today. Trisha Brown AND Robert Rauschenberg for example. I’m not at all claiming the dance artists were riding on coattails of the visual artists as I deeply respect and admire that generation of dance makers and find them incredibly inspiring. I’m just questioning the mythologization of that moment in history and the inabillity of people in positions of power and the promotion of contemporary work to acknowledge or identify the concerns and ideas of ny choreographers working today, or even the development of the form here for the last 20 years.

    I sometimes feel, though contemporary choreographers are often interested in examining the notions of “performance” and “performativity” in a way that shares a lot of commom concerns as visual artists working with performance, that dance still exists inside of institutional structures that follow more of an entertainment, “show business” model, particularly in the US. Though the institutions here in ny are constantly responding to artists and changing in very positive ways these days, there is still this dinosaur of a structure to contend with. I keep thinking there is so much work made by my peers and many of the people you listed above that would be much more at home among an audience of people familiar with the work of people like Marina Abramovicz or Markus Schinwald, eg. rather than the audiences of Complexions or Paul Taylor. I think its a very complex issue (certainly involving economic issues and the lack of marketable products or objects in dance) but I wish there would be more opportunities for the visibility of a very alive body of work amogst contemporary ny choreographers, and I don’t think PERFORMA had addressed that.

  9. hey peeps,
    I thought you guys might like to know that I’ve been invited to be part of this team writing about performa for their blog on the performa-arts.org website (it’s the “live” section). I believe I was specifically invited for my dance background. I’ve only just started seeing things- I’ll be writing about most of what they’ve listed in the “dance after choreography” curatorial strand, and some other stuff too, time permitting. But so far this is what I can tell about performa:
    1- it grows from performance in visual arts. the last biennial didn’t feature anyone I recognized from a different origin than art world performance, so this year’s roster is significantly broader.
    2- as explained by Defne, who is one of the curators, at our initial writer’s meeting, this year’s biennial means to open up the perspective on performance from that gallery perspective, to start to make claims that it’s a broader medium, so you have japanther, you have the films at bam, etc. and then the historical focus is a separate (related, but specifically historical) investigation of the generation of performance art from a shared point of origin in the mythos of the demos- hence judson films, kaprow recreations, yvonne rainer commission, etc. they’re pretty excited about new folks– and it’s very clear, whether we see our homies represented or not (some of them are), that performa as an organization is interested in contemporary work, about getting people to see performance art as something other than seed bed etc., and learning about more people working in performance.

    Yes, as Miguel pointed out, dancers might (shd do a poll about this) be able to name more visual artists than viz peeps could name choreographers. But when I migrated to the experimental playwriting circles, I can’t tell you how many dancers stared at me blankly when I said I was studying with Mac Wellman. Likewise my playwright friends haven’t heard of Tere O’Connor. But hey, lots of young dancers haven’t heard of Bebe Miller.

    What I find exciting however is that people’s strategies of making work are converging, whether or not we all know about it yet.

    I just went to my first performa event tonight. I’ll be posting abt it, which should turn up on the blog within a few days. I’ll try to put an opinion post up too (we have two categories of opinion and review) with a link to this conversation.

  10. Karinne, I agree that what is really exciting about all this is that “people’s strategies of making work are converging, whether or not we all know about it yet.” The wonderful thing about cross-disciplinary work is that it defies genre, and therefore defies being put into a tidy box of marketing gibberish to be easily reviewed, sold, and forgotten. I think that part of the frustration from the “downtown” (outer-borough?) performance community about our lack of inclusion in things like PERFORMA comes from the fact that the event claims to be THE place for showcasing THE genre-busting work that’s happening. If it claimed to be one of many windows into contemporary performance, (and if the funding was more equal for all the other windows, as has been pointed out in earlier posts) we might not be so annoyed.

    As for the trend of genre crossover itself, it makes sense that it has a cyclical appearance in art, and the fact that Judson happened doesn’t make it any less necessary to question form now. It’s certainly human nature to codify experience and make frames for things, but those frames can create such a semiotic short-cut that we stop paying attention to the detail of what we’re actually experiencing.

    I think that’s why there’s such a trend of cross-disciplinary performance right now. We’re trying to make things that have to be looked at because we’re not sure what they are. We can’t dismiss them quickly by saying, “Oh, that’s dance, or that’s theater, or that’s a painting, or that’s a beer commercial. I know what that is, so I don’t have to engage further with it.” If cross-disciplinary work keeps moving towards becoming its own marketed genre controlled by a curatorial authority, it will lose its power to engage that investigation, and we’ll all be on to something else, (something else that will become the new under-funded edge of the market).

  11. Pingback: My Performa is bigger than yours « countercritic

  12. Hi Chase and all,

    Thanks for getting in touch. RoseLee asked me to post the below for her, and I’ll just add that we hope you’ll all be able to join us for the symposium that we’re having on the 17th, “NOT FOR SALE: Dance and Conceptual Art in Visual Arts,” to continue the conversation.

    Hope to see you at some PERFORMA07 events very soon!

    Dear Lana

    I’ve been enjoying the blogs which I’ve been reading on my way from one venue to another this past week. Wish that Chase, Jonah, Claudia et al could join me en route! Would be a great way to continue the conversation which is indeed ongoing, including a panel on conceptual choreography Thursday at PSi with DD Dorvillier and others, another with Yvonne Rainer and Isaac Julien on Friday, and a long conversation with Jerome Bel yesterday afternoon about dance coming out of the visual art world, which I hope we can publish in our next book to share with everyone. I simply haven’t had a moment to respond, but certainly look forward to doing so once PERFORMA 07 winds down. Clearly we should all get together to discuss further; would be a most exciting gathering.

    Thrilled that the doors and windows have indeed been opened. One can certainly sense the air circulating.

    Please post this for me as is, since I’m not sure how to enter it in the blog!

    Off to watch Cooper Union students setting up Allan Kaprow’s Fluids, then to Chinatown for The Long March.

    See you there!


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