Community and Goings-On



PERFORMANCE FORUM QUINQUENNIAL is a 12-day conference October 8-25, 2015:

conference = a situation during which persons confer
conferance = a “con” like “comicon” for makers and fans
conference = a culmination of a period of labor
conference = states of being and becoming together


Thursday, October 8: N/A PARTAY
Saturday, October 10: FEELING TOGETHER
Grace Exhibition Space

Thursday, October 15: IN COMPLEXITY OF
Panoply Performance Laboratory

Thursday, October 22: TRAUMA SALON
Friday, October 23: CORRUPTING FLESH
Grace Exhibition Space

╳╳open to the public every day╳╳
╳╳sugg. donation $10-30/day, no one turned away╳╳
Beverages lovingly provided by Brooklyn Brewery


Adriana Disman, A Feminist Collective, Alex Romania, Alice Vogler and Jessica Gath, Angela Freiberger, ANGELI, Anja Morell, Anya Liftig, Baxton Alexander, Ben Bennett, Bobby English Jr, Britta Wheeler, Butch Merigoni, Chloe Bass, Chun Hua Catherine Dong, Daniel Larkin, David Ian Griess, Dolly Dharma, Édgar Javier Ulloa Luján & Laura Blüer, Emily Oliviera, Emma-Kate Guimon, Esther Neff, Florence Nasar, Grace Exhibition Space (Jill McDermid and Erik Hokanson), Hiroshi Shafer, Hoesy Corona, Honey McMoney, Hrag Vartanian (Hyperallergic), Ian DeLeon + Tif Robinette (aka AGROFEMME), Ivy Castellanos, Jenna Kline, Jon Konkol, Julia Croft/Future Husband, Kaia Gilje, Kerry Cox, Kikuko Tanaka, Leili Huzaibah, Lital Dotan and Eyal Perry (Glasshouse Life Art Lab), LJ Leach, Lorene Bouboushian, Marcelline Mandeng, Matthew Gantt, Meli Sanfiorenzo, Michael Newton, Naked Roots Conducive, Nathanial Sullivan, Nicole Brydson, Panoply Lab, Quinn Dukes, Rae Goodwin, Raki Malhotra, Rebecca Beauchamp, DIVERSITY FELLOWS, Robert Lisek, Shawn Escarciga, Social Health Performance Club, Soufïa Bensaïd, Sura Hertzberg, Thomas Albrecht, Valerie Kuehne/The Super Coda, Fauziya Sani, Zhenesse Heinemann, Alex Romania, Tatyana Tenenbaum, Tsedaye Makonnen 


PERFORMANCY FORUM QUINQUENNIAL marks 5 years of the platform PERFORMANCY FORUM, a project supporting and debating performance practices since 2009, organized by Panoply Performance Laboratory’s Esther Neff and the anonymous, flexible entity known as “Brooklyn International Performance Art Foundation (BIPAF)”


Performance of organizing the conference is in three layers, beginning as a series of diagrammatic interviews 
12 AGENDAS were synthesized from these diagrams.
Presenters made responsive abstracts to these agendas, which can be found HERE.
Finally, from October 8-25, 60+ responsive presenters self-organize and produce three weekends of a public conference.

Please e-mail or with any questions or inquiries.


PRACTING_petrichorbannerPetrichor Performance Collective and Panoply Performance Laboratory present an exchange of ideas and performative works in Brooklyn and Boston entitled Practice, Practicing, and the Perpetual Becoming of Performance

Friday, November 7 
Roundtable Discussion: 6pm
Performances: 7pm-11pm

Saturday, November 8
Performances: 7pm-11pm

PPL Space
104 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY, 11206

(L to Montrose, G to Broadway, M to Lorimer)
FREE (suggested donation $5-15 for the artists’ travel)

Participating Artists from Petrichor:
Danielle Abrams, Leah Rafaela Ceriello, Dell M. Hamilton, Tiara Jenkins, Ryan McMahon, Helina Metaferia, Cris Schayer, Bryana Siobhan, Kledia Spiro, Nathaniel Wyrick

Byana_petrichor(Photo above: Bryana Siobhán, azul negro, at Piano Craft Guild)

The following weekend, PPL will complete the exchange in Boston at the School for the Museum of Fine Arts:

Friday, November 15
Roundtable Discussion: 6pm
Performances: 7pm-11pm

Saturday, November 16
Performances: 7-11pm
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
230 The Fenway
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Participating Artists Include: Chloe Bass, Ayana Evans, Anya Liftig, Kikuko Tanaka, Zhenesse Heineman, Future Death Toll (Edward Sharp and David Griess), Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle (PPL), Glasshouse Project (Lital Dotan and Eyal Perry), Ivy Castellanos, and Wild Torus (Amy Mathis and Mike Voztok).

s2590047(Photo above: Kikuko Tanaka, Poultry Paradise and its Discontents (2013), PPL Space, Photo by Hiroshi Shafer)


How does an artist design and practice a practice? More importantly, how does an artist practice within constantly fluctuating ways of learning? This performance exchange is meant to address questions of process and pedagogy and to interrogate collectivity and community as a part of the practices of artists operating in Boston, New York City, and beyond.

Performance art, termed as such, has experienced a major shift between 2006 and 2014 “inside” and “outside” art worlds. The “professional” artists from the NYC area and student artists alike will ask critical questions of themselves and each other to determine how the MFA program, the collective, the artspace, the panel discussion, and other forms of social learning, are integrated within performance art practices today. The artists will question pedagogy, community, collectivity, and how our organizational and pedagogical practices operate in conflux with our performance work. Group discussions in each location with be focused around making a practice and will be allowed to digress in any of these directions.  This exchange is curated/organized by Helina Metaferia and Esther Neff, respective members of Petrichor and Panoply.

 danielleabrams(Photo above: Danielle Abrams, video still: Quadroon)

About Petrichor Performance Collective:
Petrichor is a performing arts collective operating and performing in Boston, MA, founded by MFA students, alumni, and friends of School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Facebook: PetrichorPerformanceCollective

About Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) is a duo of performance artists, a collective involving anyone who participates in any PPL operations, and an investigative project space in Brooklyn, NY that hosts performance and social projects. PPL has initiated Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival, conferences-as-mass performances, and organized PERFORMANCY FORUM (a critical platform for performance-as-theory) since 2009.

kerwinppl(PPL Space, a project of the Panoply Performance Laboratory (Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle). Photo by Kerwin Williamson)


Helina Metaferia is an interdisciplinary visual artist working in two dimensional, three dimensional, and time-based mediums. Born in Washington, DC to Ethiopian parents, Helina’s work is rooted in diaspora, migration and gender studies through an exploration of the body. Her work has been exhibited at Galeria Labirynt (Lublin, Poland), Emerson College Gallery (Boston, MA), International Visions Gallery (Washington, DC), Casa Frela Gallery (New York, NY), Williams College Gallery (Williamstown, MA), and more. She recently performed at the Guggenheim Museum with Afro-Cuban artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons in honor of the Carrie Mae Weems retrospective exhibition.

Leah Rafaela Ceriello: b. 1989. New Hampshire USA. What has come before you? what will remain after you’re gone

Tiara Jenkins is a Boston based performance artist. She was raised in Pittsburg, Missouri on a 40 acre farm. Since moving to Boston three years ago, she has been considering processes of acculturation and questioning how an individual’s life dreams and goals are formed, crushed, and reformed.

Kledia Spiro is an interdisciplinary artist experimenting with intense physical actions and understanding the internal dialogue and struggle that occur before, during, and after the action.  Kledia was born in Albania and is part of an Olympic Weightlifting team. She uses weightlifting as a symbol of empowerment and pain. Weightlifting becomes a vehicle for discussing women’s role in society, immigration and times of war.

Nathaniel Wyrick is a multidisciplinary artist born in East Tennessee and currently living and working in Boston. Working through performance, printmaking, photography, and installation he explores the fragility and imperfection of memory as it relates to personal history, identity, masculinity, and sexuality.

Cris Schayer, New Orleans artist currently based in Boston. Examining the perception of memory, language, and identities, she works with the ephemerality of time based durational performances yielding residual objects. The residue becomes a compulsive attempt to solidify the intangible.

Dell M. Hamilton is an artist, writer, activist and curator based in Boston. Born in Spanish Harlem and spending her formative years in the Bronx borough of New York, she was raised in a bilingual as well as a multi-racial Honduran family. Her work is grounded in the interdisciplinary contexts of the African Diaspora and she has most recently performed with Afro-Cuban artist, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons as part of MacArthur Genius Award winner Carrie Mae Weems’s retrospective show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Dell’s work has been shown to a wide variety of audiences at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Paragraph Gallery (St. Louis), Spoke Gallery/Medicine Wheel Productions (Boston), NK Gallery (Boston), Mobius (Boston), OKW Gallery (Boston), the Fort Port Artist Building (Boston), Atlantic Works (Boston), the Joan Resnikoff Gallery/Roxbury Community College (Boston), the Massachusetts State House (Boston) and at Perfolink: Maestros y Discipulos in Concepción, Chile.

Emerging artist Bryana Siobhan is currently a Masters Candidate at the School of the Museum of Fine art of Boston, and an Alumni of the Corcoran College of Art + Design with her Bachelors in Fine Art.  She has been living and working in Boston, MA for the past years as a performance artist, founder (a performance art archive), as a founding member of Petrichor Performance Collective and member of Que Lastima! Working in the topic of US-centric social politics regarding race, gender, and mental health, and spirituality, Siobhan draws cultural cues and signifiers from the Black American, Afro-Cuban and Indigenous American (NDN) cultures.

Danielle Abrams has performed for over 20 years as personae that emerge from her interracial family, and from a lexicon of figures in art history and popular culture. Her performances upend the limits of stereotype and representation.  As each of Abrams’ characters transfigure into new ones, prejudicial assumptions are traded in for complex and candid dialogues. Danielle Abrams has performed and exhibited work at galleries, festivals, and museums in New York including the Queens Museum, Bronx Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, Roger Smith Hotel, WOW Performance Café, The Kitchen, Rush Arts Gallery, ABC No Rio, and Dixon Place.  She has also exhibited work nationally and internationally at Detroit Institute of the Arts, the Queer Arts Festival, Labotanica at Project Row Houses, Annie Sprinkle’s and Beth Stephens’ Green Wedding, Art Gallery of Windsor, and The Geborgen Kamers Gallery in the Netherlands. She teaches Performance at The School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Ryan C. McMahon: “I was injured and hospitalized during the Boston Marathon Explosions with a major back injury and two broken wrists. “You’re Ok” explores my recovery and the healing process. I have been researching how other artists like Harun Farocki, Hito Steyerl, Stanya Kahn, Jon Rafman, Hannah Wilke and Liza Johnson uncover the effects of war, trauma and violent events. I’m also very interested in how groups, communities and cities grieve and heal collectively. Using texts from Trauma Studies I am exploring and documenting the impacts of psychological and physical trauma on an individual (myself), my family, my immediate community, and on the city as a whole while also looking at the contrasting methods that the mass media has used to process the event. The body’s healing time vs. media time.”


Chloë Bass Rehearsal for Regular Social Behavior” Chloë Bass is a conceptual artist working in performance, situation, publication, and installation. Chloë has received commissions from LUMEN, the Culture Project’s Women Center Stage Festival, the Bushwick Starr’s Bushwhack Festival, and 3rd Ward’s Moviehouse. She has received residencies from the Bemis Center (Omaha, Nebraska), POGON (Zagreb, Croatia), D21 Kunstraum/5533 art space (Leipzig, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey), and Eyebeam (New York). Recent work has been seen at the Neuberger Museum, Momenta Art, Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Flux Factory, Kunstkammer AZB (Zürich), Akademie Schloss Solitude, Exit Art, Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, ITINERANT Performance Festival, Glasshouse, Panoply Performance Laboratory, and Agape Enterprise, among others. Selected profiles of her work have appeared in BOMB, Entorno, ArtInfo, Art Observed, and Hyperallergic. She is a the recipient of the 2014 Create Change Residency from the Laundromat Project, the 2013 Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push and is a 2011 & 2012 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Individual Artist Grant Nominee. From 2007 – 2011, Chloë served as the co-lead organizer for Arts in Bushwick, which produces Bushwick Open Studios, BETA Spaces, and Armory Arts Week performance festival SITE Fest, which she founded. She has guest lectured at Parsons School of Design, Sotheby’s Institute, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Brooklyn College CUNY. She holds a BA in Theater Studies from Yale University, and an MFA in Performance and Interactive Media Arts (PIMA) from Brooklyn College.

Ayana M. Evans currently resides in New York, home base for her work as a performance artist and accessories designer. She frequently visits her hometown of Chicago, a city whose “all-American” and sometimes controversial reputation has been a major influence on her art making practices, either as ideals she challenges or as nostalgia for histories she cannot re-create.  Her own family’s roots in the South and her identity as an African American woman add another significant layer to her performance works, which are often presented as critical or banal queries that involve her body. Evans received her MFA in painting from Tyler School of Art at Temple University and her BA in Visual Arts from Brown University.  She has also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture as well as the Vermont Studio Center.  Recent exhibits include: “Time Distortion and the Body” at Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, “A Box in the World,” sponsored by Local Projects, Queens, “All that Glitters,” at The Gateway Project, Newark, “Operation Catsuit” video, screened at Panoply Performance Laboratory, Brooklyn, and “Everything Is Up For Grabs,” performance art piece choreographed by Whitney Hunter and shown at Judson Church, New York.  Evans’ accessories line, Yana handbags, was launched in 2007 and has been featured in EssenceNylonMarie Claire, TimeOut NY and the L.A.

Anya Liftig’s work has been featured at TATE Modern, MOMA, The New Museum, Trouw Amsterdam (collab with Stedelijk Museum, CPR, Highways Performance Space, Lapsody4 Finland, Fado Toronto, 7a11d International Performance Festival, Performance Art Institute-San Francisco, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, The Kitchen at the Independent Art Fair, Performer Stammtisch Berlin, OVADA, Joyce Soho and many other venues around the globe. In “The Anxiety of Influence” she dressed exactly like Marina Abramovic and sat across from her all day during “The Artist is Present” exhibition. Her work has been published and written about in The New York Times MagazineBOMBThe Wall Street JournalVogue ItaliaNext MagazineNow and ThenStay ThirstyNew York MagazineGothamistJezebelHyperallergicBad at SportsThe Other Journal, and many others. She is a graduate of Yale University and Georgia State University and has received grant and residency support from The MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts, The New Museum, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Flux Projects, University of Antioquia and Casa Tres Patios-Medellin, Colombia. She is the recipient of a 2014-2015 Franklin Furnace Award for a series of interventions in museums throughout New York mimicking the gestures of animals depicted in Old Master paintings and sculptures. In November 2014 she will release her first self-published artists’ book, entitled Rejection, Just Over 15 years of Ambition, which was featured in the D.A.P. publication, On Art and Life, by Stuart Horodner.  Purchasers receive a one of a kind portfolio box with a copy of every rejection letter Liftig has received to date.  Every year, purchasers receive a packet with the rejection letters of that calendar year to update their collection.  Their purchases also fund the production of a duplicate edition of Rejection which is sent to an institution of their selection from an index of all the organizations that have ever rejected the artist.  Please contact the artist directly for more information or to purchase a copy.  Upcoming performances include performing in: Screening Room, or, The Return of Andrea Kleine (as revealed through a re-enactment of a 1977 television program about a ‘long and baffling’ film by Yvonne Rainer.) at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, Queens,  A performance/dance collaboration with Tess Dworman at Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn, NY, and AUNTS on Camera at The New Museum, NY.

Lital Dotan & Eyal Perry (aka: Glasshouse) have been a collaborative team since 2001. Their work is best described as interdisciplinary performative art, integrating elements of video, photography and installation into performance; challenging ideas pertaining to the role of art in society, the role of the audience in art and the very nature of art itself. In their performative pieces they often involve the public, seriously examining public morality and the deeper, more hidden motivations behind social interactions. In 2010 the Glasshouse project was hosted by seminal performance artist Marina Abramovic at her institute in San Francisco. In addition to their work as Glasshouse, Lital & Eyal’s works have been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries (the Israel Museum, the San Francisco Jewish Modern and the National Museum in Cracow among others) and can be found in public and private collections worldwide.

Future Death Toll’s David and Edward ask a lot of questions, like: how can we make performances with people not in the same room (would that also work for several performers in several different places)? is silence important? how far does our voice reach? how can this engage the public? what’s the most minimal amount of material required to conceptually encapsulate the relevant point? Answers become fodder for group collaboration and idea exchange through tools like open forum discussion, a/v recordings, and live video chat. Black trash bags, heavy breathing, sweat, mask, razors, and clothes are objects of ephemera & appropriated context; which may or may not be (or become) transcendental; which may or may not be well crafted; which may or may not really exist. What is seen? What is not seen? How is it that we can “see” what’s not there? And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you (to borrow from Nietzsche).

Kikuko Tanaka: Hybrid Research, Poetic Amalgamation and Communication ” Born and raised in JapanKikuko Tanaka is a frantic thinker and practitioner currently based in New York. Her ongoing series of tragicomic epic “A Tragic Bambi” is an open-ended investigation of psychical histories that inform and condition the present. She has performed and exhibited in various venues, including Smack Mellon, Momenta Art, NARS Foundation, Center for Performance Research, Amelie A.Wallace gallery at SUNY Old Westbury, Vox Populi, Arario Gallery and Panoply Performance Laboratory among others. Her work has been favorably reviewed in Art in America, Art Info, and Hyperallergic. She was a nominatee for a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Art Grant in 2010. She has an interdisciplinary background in her education. She holds a BS in Landscape Design from Chiba University, and has briefly studied fine art at School of Visual Arts, and has engaged in interdisciplinary studies at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, New York. She was a co-founder/ co-director of one-year artists’ project, Agape Enterprise, Brooklyn, New York, and is currently Administrative Director at Momenta Art, Brooklyn, New York.

Ivy Castellanos is a performance artist and sculptor. Castellanos is the founder of IV Soldiers.

Zhenesse Heinemann: “Ms Connections. Zhenesse Heinemann produces public programming, and curates and creates art in New York City and beyond.  She was born in Germany, grew up in Chicago, lived on the beach in Los Angeles, and has made a home in New York since 2004.

WILD TORUS (WT) is the eccentric brainchild of male and female counterparts, Vlady VØz Tokk and Mág Ne Tá Z’air, in addition to their collaborating spawn. WT creates chaotic, cult happenings within multi-sensory installations. Working out of Capitol Beltway inbreeding in a post-Cold War malaise between clashing Russian bloodlines; mental contortion in the American South; abandoned, Castilian wormholes; gradual suburban numbing; and urban hyper-stimuli, WT aims to create a shared, collective experience with audiences. WT utilizes a combination of digital and physical means, like projection art and kinetic sculpture, to communicate major events that occur in the universe. Through an ephemeral process, WT’s constructed interventions alter its participants’ consciousness, as well as their corporeal position in society. The rituals activate a liminal space-time to personally deconstruct events of our contemporary reality, those which have been distorted through media sources and the Internet. Ultimately, the coming together of WT’s clashing identities, invented tools, and cryptic symbols through ritualistic experience erupts into an extreme, dystopian spectacle.

PPL (Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle): “Embarrassed of the (W)hole: Exchange with Petrichor” Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL) operates across disciplines and spheres, constructing and participating in live situations. Projects such as operas, conferences, exhibitions, a miniature museum, tours, a performance space, an international festival, workshops, and other forms have been supported through Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Brooklyn Arts Council, LaGuardia Community College, University Settlement, the cell, chashama,, Performer Stammtisch, University of Kentucky, and shown at Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery and High Concept Laboratories (Chicago), Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, The White Page (Minneapolis), ISSUE: Project Room, Grace Exhibition Space,  Flux Factory, English Kills, Momenta Art (NYC), Villa Victoria (Boston), La Casa del Popolo (Montreal), Gruentaler9 (Berlin) and many other spaces, in addition to public sites including a bowling alley, public libraries, bars, gas stations, etc. Outside of PPL, Brian McCorkle is a founder of composer ensemble Varispeed and has performed in PERFORMA 11 and 13, at The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, and all over the world as a performer and composer. Esther Neff (almost always operating as “PPL”) practices contextual and conceptual work involving modes of institutional critique, curation-as-art, and social performance. She also writes about performance theory and has spoken on/at GritTV, Abrons Arts Center, CUNY, The New School, and published texts here and there on the outmost fringes of academia. Brian and Esther have been collaborators since 2004.

In ongoing dealings with performance art and its modes of production,  PPL release the Summer 2014 Open Call.



Can performance artists “emerge”? Are we looking to “establish” and “become visible?” (if so, what do we mean by this?) Are we trying to become famous? Is your cause an emergency? Do you need something? Do you have something you want seen? We coin a term, “EV” (“Emergency Visibility”) to describe, in general and in specificity, the ways in which live performance art problematizes these concerns and often subverts conceptual, economic, and other formal paradigms.

PERFORMANCY FORUM is a platform, it holds you up, but only so that you can be seen as part of an immediate situation by a living witnesses, who exist with you in the here and now. There is no visibility beyond the present tense, no life to the work beyond it’s liveness. There may be taken photographs or video. There may be post-performance discussion. But there will be only subjective schemas by which you may measure whether or not the performance you made became visible.

Please make proposals (ideally in debate with the above) for performances to occur on SATURDAY, JULY 19, 2014 at Panoply Performance Laboratory in Brooklyn, NY.


tech needs
links to past work

in an email to: PANOPLYLAB@GMAIL.COM

FIVE ARTISTS will be selected to create performance works for the evening at PPL.
Preference is given to artists who have not performed here before (NEW BLOOD).

Artists receive all donations from the door and free beer all night + a souvenir screenshot of the Facebook event page*


*Unfortunately we do not have funds to support travel to or housing in NYC, we are a studio space run by artists, not an institution.

A report on the panel discussion “WHO CAN WRITE ABOUT PERFORMANCE ART?” presented by PERFORMA Institute and NYU Steinhardt at Judson Church, 04/24/2014.

PROGRAM via e-flux announcements.

“Why Dance in the Art World?,” presented by The Performa Institute and NYU Steinhardt at Judson Memorial Church on September 17, 2012. Photo © Paula Court

“Why Dance in the Art World?,” presented by The Performa Institute and NYU Steinhardt at Judson Memorial Church on September 17, 2012. Photo © Paula Court

This is a written response to a panel discussion. I will understand the panel as a public performance, problematically attempting to identify the assumptions, intentions, concerns, and theoretical positions of the panelist-performers and then to judge success or failure in their realizations, complications, and expressions of these. Subjective judgment will be used to declare the panel’s cultural relevance and value, and to show where the panel is without cultural relevance and value, each at my own discretion. Throughout this critical explication, judgment, and process of (e)valuation, my own theories and opinions will inevitably emerge, combining my embodied experience as a witness with my synthesizing thought processes as performed during and after the performance of the panel. I will also write in a style that parodies abstract “art language” as it exists in dialogue with philosophy, social theory, and other formal systemizations of nooespheres (1).

Adrienne Edwards introduces the event, speaking about the history of and “substantial contribution to the field” made by PERFORMA the institute and by PERFORMA the rest of it. Edwards reads the panelist bios and then turns the microphone over to panel moderator/panel participant RoseLee Goldberg, the founder of PERFORMA. Goldberg first notes the anniversary of PERFORMA and re-describes the institution’s venerable history of similar panel discussions, further mediating and assigning value to the situation and context. She draws attention to importance of Judson Church, making a gesture of open, raised hands to the vaulted ceiling of the space and the stained-glass apostles basking in the 6pm light. Goldberg then asks for a show of hands, saying she needs to get a sense of who she is talking to: who is an art historian? How many critics in the audience? Writers? Anthropologists? Theater, dance, film, or music practitioners? Most of the hands remain down, as she does not ask who is a “performance artist,” or who is a “babysitter,” and I recognize a majority of individuals who might identify as both of these. The attempt to identify the individuals present is no doubt an attempt to be inclusive and to recognize the performance situation. However, the neglect of performance artists specifically attests the opinion that (as many fellow attendees of the panel later contest) “performance art” is more of a critical category or movement like Feminism or Abstract Expressionism (primarily to be defined by critics, art historians, and curators not by artists), rather than as its own discipline or set of concerns (see the end of this piece of writing for more on this). After this interactive show-of-hands game, Goldberg leans forward against the podium to perform a narrative about her own background, epistemic evolution, and intellectual subjectivity. Goldberg moves and speaks with a cool grace, her speech patterns and vocabulary are direct and bent on universalization, the language of a politician. In rhetorical content, she is similarly level, serving up what I perceive as four “meta-concerns” for the panel as a whole: context, situationality, subjectivity, and framing processes, as such. (These words are somewhat arbitrary but I use them to draw a shaky line around what I see as the most general clusters of frames, ideologies, and perspectives put forth by the panel as a performance.)

Construction-Destruction-Construction, 1967 Performers: Al Hansen, Jon Hendricks, Taylor Mead, Ralph Ortiz, Lil Picard, Jean Touche, and Viva C-D-C took place at Judson Church on October 20, 1967, and at The Factory in November 1967.

Construction-Destruction-Construction, 1967
Performers: Al Hansen, Jon Hendricks, Taylor Mead, Ralph Ortiz, Lil Picard, Jean Touche, and Viva
C-D-C took place at Judson Church on October 20, 1967, and at The Factory in November 1967.

Golberg provides instruction to the other panelists to continue to observe these four meta-concerns as governing frames for the panel: she asks them to note context in terms of her own book and the live PERFORMA festival (a context including history and dialectic locale of the institute, NYU Steinhardt–which is hardly mentioned at all and I’m not sure who is the representative party from this institution–and Judson Church), indicates to the panelists what the panelists will do and how they will do it with regards to microphones and podium (by which site will interact with performance actions) and instructs the panelists to provide their own background narrative so that specific subjectivies can be known by the audience (by which their subjectivities will be made transparent).


Throughout each of their initial presentations, the panelists will lay out different types of contexts, using contextualizing and historicizing materials/materializations such as texts, witnessed performances, historical facts, and documentation and using definitions of contexts as functional, (and thus valuable) dialectic components (2). The contexts of History, they agree, are empiric though subjective, ephemeral yet dialogic, inclusive yet exclusive. The differences between journalism, art historical writing, theoretical writing, and criticism are noted as contexts for subjectivities, mediating conditions (the pressures of working for a newspaper, for example), and processes alike. Contexts such as “academia” and “the art world” are seen as objective systems which simultaneously produce art and are produced by art.

The artworld (see Danto, Becker, Dickie) and academia (public and private institutional research divided into fields of study and discourse) are the only two contexts named “contexts” as such, though the panelists complicate these as a matter of interesting point during their individual presentations. Economic and political contexts are loosely identified as parameters for differences and identities. Claire Bishop and Adrian Heathfield keep their panelist presentations trained within leftist/Marxist dialectics but their more contemporary eyes on philosophy (i.e. formal logics in conflicting dialogue with social and political processes, Hegelian problems with agency and universalism) are somewhat obscured by the ways in which the panel’s meta-concerns are heavily maintenanced/mediated, and ultimately excluded by the way in which PERFORMA’s authority is asserted via the panel’s active forms and self-contextualizations.

Throughout the panel presentations and following discussion, disciplinary context is of utmost amicable concern: the panelists discuss how theater, dance, and art are all skill-based traditions as well as institutions, economies, dialectics, and valuation schemas. They agree that interdisciplinary skills, multiculturalism, hybridity, general conflictuality, and intellectual catholicism are useful and are to be valued. However, “knowledge” is only tangentially problematized as such, left standing even as differing historicizing agendas emerge. I am forced to assume that this word, “knowledge,” is functioning in a semantic code for “universal” processes for thinking (processes, which separated from that which is thought about, are sometimes considered the threshold of possibility for such a thing as “universal” anything).

Contextuality, as an overarching concern, steers navigation of the panel’s improvisatory dialogue following the initial individual presentations by the panelists. Contextuality provides easy steerage via its discursive appropriation and synthesizing aims, easy first because there is extensive writing within the dialectics co-constructed by global academy and the global artworld debating “distinct formative genealogies” (Adrian Heathfield) and secondly because well-defined competing genealogies as performable tensions are ideal dramatic conflicts for a performance, such as a panel. Third, and verging on an almost teleological absurdity, “context” is an idea has been most formalized by linguistic fields as a way of dealing with relationships between language and social affect, allowing the performance of the dialogue itself and the discourse rehearsed by the performance of that dialogue, to operate in agreement. This agreement is, in fact, one functional (Platonian) definition of “a dialectic.” (3)

PERFORMA '13 opening party. Photo from GuestofaGuest. (I was there performing in a piece by but I didn't take a photo--author)

PERFORMA ’13 opening party. Photo from GuestofaGuest. (I was there but craps I didn’t take a photo–author 😉


This meta-concern is partially subsumed by context in general but demands that attention be drawn to it as a way of “dealing with it.” I might better entitle this framing concern “acts of situational recognition and coordination,” in attempts to separate this concern from contextuality.

Attention is drawn to the site and situation as a kind of moral act, a Brechtian (Brecht is mentioned three times during this panel) self-reflexivity that trades transparency for authorization, and values embodiment as a performed attempt to consciously perform construction of context rather than capitulate to an “existing” monolithic context (such as “academia”).

Despite the urgency of this concern, this panel maintained an autopoetic, dialectic constructivity as its dramaturgical design, making any formative “inclusion of the other” problematic if not impossible (as such acts of recognition serve to further position the recognizers in opposition/separation from “otherness,” i.e. otherness is defined by “not otherness”), and the colonial structure of the panel, as a form, remains unreformed by mere recognition. I reiterate; performance structures for this panel are not adjusted in any conclusory accordance with any political or social ideology regarding the site or its situation; the structure used operates in accordance with dominant/traditional/default academic panel formats of 2014. The arrangement of the audience in relationship to the panels is theatrical, the panelists sit behind a table on a stage in front of a sea of front-facing audience members in rows of folding chairs. Panelist blocking (as in the bodies of the panelists performing mise en scene) involves each panelist rising from their seat behind the table and moving to a podium downstage right. The panelist then has 13 minutes to present something that they feel relates to the purpose and intention of the panel (which is “writing about performance art” and “who can do it” see framing text in the program and this list of meta-frames). After this presentation of self and substance, panelists return to their seats as Goldberg picks out one element from their presentation to summarize and essentially add to the following collective, improvised, discussion. It is stated, by most of the panelists, that site (geographically in the city, in the country, in the world) and situation (the panel as a panel and as a form for a panel) can be considered a part of context and that all of this is somehow important without being presently formative/instructive/applicable/actionable. Only Adrian Heathfield notes that his position as an “exemplary authority,” standing on a dais in front of a disempowered, silent audience, is uncomfortable and should be considered.


Photo from Hrag Vartanian's instagram account of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses.

Photo from Hrag Vartanian’s instagram account of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses.

Hrag Vartanian’s process is also self-reflexive as suggested by the conflux between frameworks valuing inclusion of context, site/situationality, subjectivity, and process as meta-concerns. As a journalist, Vartanian explains, he is concerned with performing witnessing, and acts of performance documentation and dissemination. His concerns cause him to consider his own presence and subjectivities. As an example, Vartanian tells of a performance that he disliked while it was being performed, finding that some time later and in a different place, he felt the piece in a new and powerful way. Here, he is discussing an experience of subjectivity, a translating and using of one’s own emotional and psychological experience into writing. The writing self here is neither an objective nor a funhouse mirror, the writing self is an agent capable of engaging with time and space, in the same ways that a performer does when entering a performance situation. Witnessing becomes a form of presence, and not just during a performance, but throughout a process of intending and then performing writing or, sometimes, in Vartanian’s case, photographing and posting online. Noting Vartanian’s engagement with the internet also as a mode of performance, strong interest is sparked by relationships between his ideas and Philp Auslander’s much-cited article “The Performativity of Performance Documentation” (PAJ 84, 2006) in which the difference between “documentary” and “theatrical” photography is posed as an ideological intention (but whose?). Auslander writes that he is “suggesting that performance documents are not analogous to constatives, but to performatives: in other words, the act of documenting an event as a performance is what constitutes it as such. Documentation does not simply gener- ate image/statements that describe an autonomous performance and state that it occurred: it produces an event as a performance and, as Frazer Ward suggests, the performer as “artist.” Here, the intentions of the photographer as productive/generative acts is hinted (perhaps it is the photographer who holds an idealogical intention about the operation of the photograph? But to what extent does the photographer design/act out their production of the event as a performance and produce the definition of the artist as artist other than via the eventual inclusion or exclusion of that photograph in public record?) and Vartanian’s interest in his own “writing up,” ”photographing” and “uploading” bring this ongoing chain of debate surrounding documentation of performance into a more complex and contemporary place.

John Rockwell begins by (situationally) drawing attention to the different forms of notes and the divide between himself and Vartanian, who improvise their presentations from notes, and the through-written readings of texts by Heathfield and Bishop. His subjective perspective, he says, is “cheerfully barbaric” and self-proclaimed as “somewhat anti-intellectual.” He encourages young writers to attend a lot of performance art and reiterates the need for a broad education for writers about performance art. Near the end of his statement, Rockwell notices that he has been making a rhetorical separation between “us” and “them” regarding Western thinking and artworlds. His recognition of this expands in some moments of self-consciousness as he discusses his familiarity with Western art and white artists, problematically conflating groups and identities, devolving into a flippant tone. There is some complicit laughter in the audience, rewarding Rockwell’s frankness. He poses frankness, irony, straight-talk, and common language against academic and artworld dialectics to an extent, but perhaps accidentally aligns what he perceives as a “normativity” (white, male, cis, straight, Western?) with the former. This alignment is a paradigm which Rockwell would no doubt dispute, but in his attempts to locate his own subjectivity he finds its reinforcement.

Each of the panelists give background on themselves, describing their initial interest in performance art, linking their projects to individual artists, institutions, time periods, and geographic locations. The individual artists mentioned include Jonah Bokaer (Bishop), Tcheh Hsieh (Heathfield), time periods include the 1980’s and 1960’s, geographic locations are London, New York, Sydney. Two of the panelists are professors, one is a critic, one is a blogger, and one describes herself as a “curator, art historian.” Subjective perspectives, if they can be defined at all, might be defined as “Western,” “Feminist,” “Pedagogical,” “American,” “South African,” “British” and so on.


Claire Bishop begins her presentation by noting that the business of a panel performer is to attack and re-frame the panel’s framing. This process of debating the frame as a frame for the panel itself is re-introduced as a recommended procedure by Adrian Heathfield. In both of their spoken texts (they are reading partially-memorized papers), shifting frames are expertly outlined as they pass by, words have a rhythmic sensibility that make for pleasurable listening. In the best of lecture situations, the listener can follow the logic of both the framing process and see/understand that which is being framed, while enjoying the words and voice (assonance, tonality, timbre, volume, emotional expression, etcetera). I am reminded of Vanessa Place’s definition of a “sobject” in Notes on

Small Stellated Dodecahedron

Small Stellated Dodecahedron

Conceptualisms which locates the subject/object “existing in an ongoing procedural loop, self-eclipsed by degrees.” In the performances of both Bishop and Heathfield, their virtuoso in performing these procedural, self-eclipsing loops of thought and language is breathtaking. Bishop ties processes of dialecticization to performance writing, knitting the act of defining disciplines to art history trajectories, tying modes of production to skilling and de-skilling dialectics, etc (see types of contexts, above). The dialectic (a mathematics) emerges as a shimmering tetrahedron.


The presentations of the panel performers serve to complicate the initial meta-concerns for the event, following a dialogic (4) process which seeks to contribute co-constructive layers of insight. Heathfield’s text seemed most successful to me with regards to this intention, as he posed the performance artist as a practical philosopher and as a writer who opens up the space between politics and philosophy, describing how writing about performance, writing in performance i.e. performance text, performance as writing, and the performance of writing embodies active investigation into relevant problematics. This idea at first seemed unexciting contextually (i.e. linguistically), as his conceptual metaphors of “opening up spaces” and of “filling holes” as well as an intertwined personal narrative about the 1980’s seemed to bent towards that impossible omega point where all of reality is understood and all problems solved (see Goldberg, see Modernism and Plato’s Cave) or at least a project of “successful failure,” as formal yet impossible attempt towards such a thing (object and/or arrayed objects of knowledge). Yet when Heathfield begins to number out the schemas and dialectics via which performance has its own frame, he began to pose problematics as processes, aligning himself with what I feel are exactly the modes being realized by practicing performance artists. These are my notes that I wrote as he spoke verbatim, it is a list of the ideas he feels that performance art and writing about performance as well as writing using performance as its core metaphor and theoretical form (I hope this is what he was saying) co-construct:

Psychotherapy. “Holes in structures of constantive knowing.” Politics of visibility, voice, and access, altern bodies (Feminism, queer and post-colonial theory). Phenomenology, affect theory, generative frames, the sensate, embodiment. Relation, social and aesthetic theory, activism, “trouble economics” and “identitarianism,” collaborative writing, power paradigms, ways of thinking and being.

Zefrey Throwell, Ocularpation Wall Street, 2011.

Zefrey Throwell, Ocularpation Wall Street, 2011.

Hrag Vartanian’s perspective overlapped with Heathfield’s despite their very different lexicon and “contexts.” First, Vartanian spoke directly of artists and their acts, mentioning Zefrey Throwell’s public actions just before OCCUPY officially began on September 17, 2011, the collective institutional critique project Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival, (see photo below and statement of bias in footnotes) and several other works, pointing to the ways in which performance art projects relate with other fields and spheres of research, scholarship, theory, and analysis, existing in and as writing. He also brought up the internet rather slyly, speaking plainly about how images via Instagram and Facebook are “writings” about the witness’ experience and role within the performance situation. He put forth the idea that these image-based forms work well to understand work that deals in and with the present and presentness. Vartanian and Heathfield agreed that writing as a practice is a “troubling of identity,” and that the performance of the writer must be considered when that writer is writing in relationship with performance art (see: subjectivity).

The panelists all spoke with a certain advocacy for performance art. Bishop cited the recent Guardian article by Jonathan Jones dismissing performance art at large as silly cultural banality. “A need for more thoughtful, persuasive criticism which can also call a spade a spade” she said. Goldberg, Vartanian, and Rockwell agree that artists should be taken more seriously, young writers don’t read enough and aren’t any good, plugs for funding PERFORMA and for the institutions with which the panelists work are made.

Documentation image, Chris Burden "Shoot" (1971)

Documentation image, Chris Burden “Shoot” (1971)

In the discussion following the individual presentations, additional problems and questions are raised, the primary discussion is about processes of art historical writing regarding performances which have passed. Can a performance be written about by a writer who wasn’t present during the live performance? At first, I didn’t understand why this question should take up so much time, but it does seem to be one of the cruxes of one of the most intensive conflicts surrounding performance art:

Brought up and turned into a lively discussion by Claire Bishop and RoseLee Goldberg, these two seemed to argue with a certain heat for the primacy of an art-historical context and for a writer to know about the history of performance art, towards contextualizing a performance art work (or artist) within art history. By primacy of context, I mean that for them, art history is a context which defines performance art. Generally, I mean a closure of definitions of Performance Art (capital letters) into that performance work which is written about. (i.e. only performance art that is written about is actually performance art, see Auslander again making the similar argument about photography of performance). Running beneath this argument which is not quite an argument (Adrian Heathfield attempts to indicate the diversity of contexts for performance art but speaks with such indirect language that the points fall to the side of the conversation) is what I see as a simple and banal attempt to own performance art, for PERFORMA and Claire Bishop, as institiutions and as individuals represented by RoseLee Golberg and by the body of the theorist herself (respectively), to use the panel to authorize their definitive perspectives and knowledges about performance art. This is to be expected, and is, perhaps, obligatory. I have, however, been looking for a way to describe in this piece of writing, the vicious antagonism of performance artists in the audience of this panel towards this panel, and the antagonism of performance artists working in New York City (and perhaps beyond) towards PERFORMA and other institutions and towards the art world and academia at large.

This antagonism between performance artists and specifically PERFORMA is aggravated during this panel event when Goldberg attempts to skip over the audience question-and-answer section expected by the format of the panel. Perhaps she hoped to avoid a public confrontation. Unfortunately, the questions that were asked, after the panelists themselves protested that the panel should include an open Q and A, turned out to be so uninteresting and confused that I don’t care to write about them. Another moment was an inaudible (unamplified) statement from someone named Anna in the audience, prompted by Goldberg.

In writing now, I can’t neglect the discussions had by working performance artists about this panel after its performance, as many expressed frustrations that exceed contained, formal, dialectic disagreement with the meta-contexts I have superimposed on the experience. I am tempted to throw many complaints out as forms of “sour grapes,” levied by careerist artists demanding attention and recognition in the form of writing by academics and artworld authorities. These complaints range from the simple “but why doesn’t PERFORMA actually curate performance artists, like me?” (see “communitarian vagueness” below: who is a performance artist and who gets to say they are one?) through ideologically-driven demands for inclusivity in art history and access to artmarkets (demands aligned with Goldberg own concerns). In regards to these frustrations and demands, it may be interesting to note that only Hrag Vartanian has performed witness to and performed within the thriving, throbbing, International subculture of performance art with which the writer of this essay is most familiar. At least, he is the only one who has written about it. For those who may not know, there is a “community” of some formality, involving Rapid Pulse in Chicago, MPA-B in Berlin, and festivals across most major cities in the world (and many in smaller towns and rural areas besides) operating throughout DIY spaces, independent galleries, public spaces, and organizations with varying degrees (and often total lack) of artworld and/or academic engagement. From the Venice Biennale through Anaze Izquierdo’s organization in her apartment in Lima, artists who self-define as primarily performance artists are producing work within this convergent-yet-separate performance art community, artists ranging from the very established (such as Mobius, like Ron Athey, Marilyn Arsem, Vest and Page, Guillermo Gomez-Pena) to those who perform primarily on the street (Matthew Silver, Kalan Sherrard, in NYC alone). Writing abounds as well. In fact, the very evening after this panel discussion, a performance art journal called INCIDENT was launching in Brooklyn at Grace Exhibition Space, involving Sandrine Schaefer who founded The Present Tense in Boston, and Eames Armstrong who founded Peri0d in Washington, DC, two women who are also performance artists as well as curators of performance art and writers about performance art.

"Longtable" performative, participatory panel on Body Art organized by Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) artists. Pictured clockwise (at the table): Shawn Chua Ming Ren, Erik Hokanson, Christen Clifford, Joseph Ravens, Jill McDermid,  Ron Athey, Kris Grey/Justin Credible, Geraldo Mercado, Mari Novotny-Jones.

“Longtable” performative, participatory panel on Body Art organized by Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) artists. Pictured clockwise (at the table): Shawn Chua Ming Ren, Erik Hokanson, Christen Clifford, Joseph Ravens, Jill McDermid, Ron Athey, Kris Grey/Justin Credible, Geraldo Mercado, Mari Novotny-Jones. (Back row): Lital Dotan, Rae Goodwin, Eyal Perry, Gete Berhe, participant, the author.

Many performance artists attended this panel to see if the fact that there is a performance art renaissance (both in artmaking practices and in writing) happening worldwide is still only visible to these panelists (except for Vartanian, again) when it surfaces as idiotic stunts such as  Marina Abramovic and Jay-Z’s music video and in the bum-rush of celebrities driving in their stakes, or if this renaissance of performance art, as such, is the very work that concerns Goldberg when she says she is “mostly concerned with the knowledge, the history, the fabulous history which has actually been left out of art history for the past 100 years and more.” In assumption that performance artists/performance art organizers and institutions like PERFORMA are both working towards, as Grace Exhibition Space puts it “the glorification of performance art,” It is unclear as to why the practices of currently working performance artists are often not deemed valuable enough to write about, to curate and support financially, yes, but more importantly why these practices themselves are not deemed relevant enough to impact dialectics discussing performance art and the forms in which these dialectics are developed (formally, ideologically, constructively).

Instead of feeling these frustrations myself however, this panel assured me that performance art practices (however defined, and across definitions) have the potential (as Adrian Heathfield indicated) to co-construct theorizations within larger debates about hegemony, Otherness, universality, intentionality, agency, contingency, and identity, precisely because they haven’t yet “surfaced.” The extent to which these practices choose to relate with philosophical, political, and other formal spheres can still be negotiated by the artists and their corroborators; practices can also be “common,” populist, non-lingual/non-dialectical, outsider, defined via their very problematic (non)existences (5) during a period of totally consumptive hegemony and metabolization of cultural imperialism.

I am relieved that there seems to be no danger of performance art being encompassed by, or even “accurately” defined and determined by legitimized writing about performance art. Performance art is—when most successful—not possible to include in art history, it can’t be reviewed or criticized after the fact, you have to be there and experience it, if you want to write respectfully about it (in my opinion). Oral and written tradition can be passed down through time (this is one of the reasons that a “performance art community” might be said to exist), but no authority can be more relevant than that of the witness and the artist themselves. Because performance art splits and hides, relating itself formally with the very aspects of its own otherness, recursively responding within already-slippery disciplines like social arts practices, street art, political action, and practices of the daily, writing itself must be flexible in form and mode in order to relate effectively with it. Because performance often doesn’t begin and end, often is not a “piece” or “work” that can be described or discussed as such, writing in relationship with it must be cognized as a performance process too. Because authorship is often convoluted, modes of production resisting the knowledge-sourcing and influencing tactics of public and private financing must be sought by both performance art and its writing. Further, because language struggles to dramatize, narrativize, commodify, and dialecticize as performance dissolves into its own theorization, writing must be expanded conceptually to include many forms of index, trace, ephemerality, image-making, description, reflection, and reaction. When performance art and writing (language) merge, they have the potential to reify a “performanceworld” that—perhaps in forced transgression— supersedes “artworlds” entirely in terms of adaptability, self-cognition, and ability to relate directly to states of in-situ human being. Core meta-concerns like context, site-specificity/situationality, subjectivity, and constantly performed re-evaluation of framings and processes, process itself as a focus, are the domains of performance art itself, an emergent, conceptual skilling that is highly developed both somatically and intellectually.

Finally, I find it hard to believe that an art historian or other academic writer will soon venture any deeper than the most well-lit areas of the performance art world (described briefly above) which is presently somewhat invisible (they call that “marginalized” though if it is intentionally performed, it is more like resistance) due to its sites, its location within certain classes and lifestyles. It is also likely that more and more performance artists will be recognized and canonized as they grow older, and that as performance artists, currently increasing in numbers, lose some of their numbers to dialectic nets and a salting and saving for later consumption, the thinning of these competitive, capitalist artists will allow other artists—those left to swim free and invisible—to breed more potent and resilient forms of performance that actually operate within social and political oceans.

This panel is, in my opinion, only tangentially related to anything relevant to writing and performance art, as actual human processes. The tangent is that which keeps the word “art” tagging along after the word “performance.” It is also the tangent which encourages universities to sell MFAs in performance art. Perhaps the next panel will ask, do performance artists want those who “can” (i.e. are authorized) write about performance art to do so? Do performance artists care if these panelists decide that they are welcome to write about their own practices, even as many already do? Do any writers, who are legitimate writers, care about performance art? Do “legitimate” terms of engagement set by writers rather than by performance artists automatically disallow subsequent writing to “accurately” write the importance, value, and significance of performance art as a hybrid sphere of conceptualization and action? Does writing about performance art actually un-define performance art as such, and the performance artist as such?

It seems that this panel performed its constructed aims well, appealing to many individuals across specializations in its cohesive presentation of current institutional, artworld, academic, journalistic, and art market concerns regarding writing about performance art and who does it. The form of the panel could have better supported a multiplicity of its panelists’ concerns, better used non-dominant forms of logic and sense-making, been more inclusive, it could have been more queer, more of color, it could have involved at least one performance artist, it could have been somewhere else, it could have been a baseball game. As it was, it reinforced contemporary reconciliation between art and capitalism, generated its own authority, and maintained its meta-concerns, venerably fulfilling its own expectations and purpose as “a performance.”

–Esther Neff

There is a video of this panel, I have not re-watched it before writing this response (this response is written from my notes and memory, as I prefer to write about performance art). Here is the video if you want to hear the exact words said, you can’t see much:


(1)   It would be too complicated in this writing to fully acknowledge the extent to which this approach to writing criticism is problematic. Let me briefly note that further inquiry into processes for interpreting intentions, assignments of relevancies and values as absolute products of the same hegemonics producing this panel, and modernist ideas of the performance as a total object, are required. Your reading of this piece of writing should be deeply suspicious and critical, I aim to be hyper-didactic as a mode of absurdity/parody. For more about the term and concept “noosphere,” which is defined in analogy with the earth’s atmosphere as a “sphere of human thought” comprising energies, emotions, etc, see: Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin. Let me also note that I am biased, very much so, and personally involved in some of what I discuss in this piece of writing.

(2)   function, operation, and affect are the three problems which make English a difficult language for writing about performance art, and are the very problems of conceptualization/cognition about action—conceptually at large—that very lovely mud into which “the performative turn” has slowly been grinding itself.

(3)   Dialectics, like art itself, are primarily bent towards self-definition and self-construction, modeling themselves directly within and on capitalist schemas for knowledge, sense, and mattering as commodity, sum, and substance. Dialectics are can thus be seen as primarily bent towards usability of language as an evaluative, meaningful, interpretive and universalist schema rather than as a set of acts which perform evaluation, analysis, and complication, and allow for multiple performative constructions of meaning, interpretations, and schematizations.

(4)   Dialogics are simply logics based in a formalized dialogue between works, in in the literary theory of Mikhail Bakhtin, who was most simply stating that we do not speak—or write—in a vacuum, but rather in relationship with all that has been and will be spoken and written. Bakhtin also argues for polysemy/polyvocality, feeding his writings dialogically into later theory by Julia Kristeva surrounding “intertextuality” and multiplicities of meanings and references. See Richard Sennett’s Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation (2010) for a sociological perspective on the distinctions between dialectic (i.e. as proposed by Hegel, claims exemplified by Plato’s Republic, as attempts to resolve meanings of statements) and dialogic processes (facilitating interface between multiple intentions and views).

NOTE: Dialectics and dialogics are similar in that they describe patterns of codes for compound thoughts which can’t be written out in full each time (books would just keep getting longer and longer, instead of simply saying “Hegel’s dialectics” I would have to try to explain it all again in my own words…this would be great, excepts for that little thing known as “time,” and our own mortality).

(5)   This can of worms is so full of worms as it may be perceived as the single largest source of worms in the world today. To use the texts of others as openers of this can, see Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s Can The Subaltern Speak, and plethoras of texts by post-Marxist scholars like Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Zizek, each as they discuss the abstract “existence” of views, bodies, thoughts, meanings, and other elements of existence “outside” and/or “inside” hegemonies.

theater Theory posterTheorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

PART I: September 6, 7, 8
PART II: September 12, 13

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater is being held to communally research how theorizing is performed. We use the word “the-ater” to frame performance modes that propose a way of seeing, or “the-ory.” We seek to enable serious consideration of the ways that performance constructs ways of knowing, but also ask how dramaturgy and other “theatrical” ways of knowing inform and sometimes restrict discursive and dialogic processes at large.

Therefore, at the core of this conference is performance. The conference begins with four plenary presentations, all in the form of performances, by Amapola Prada, Reality Research Center, Kikuko Tanaka, and Mike Taylor. Each of these will be followed by a moderated discussion. The responses by conference participants will discuss, derail, and embody theater-as-theory.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION is $50 for full access* to the two public weekends of the conference. Register here: Entrance to any of the public events individually is $10 strongly suggested donation (or DNA in the form of hair or fingernails at Glasshouse).

*August 31st-September 4th is Acts I, II, and III of the Reality Research Center’s “Symposium.” The piece is a workshop-format performance for 12 individuals during the day. Participation is first come, first served and will occur at Momenta Art. Please note in your registration if you are able and desirous to participate in this aspect of the conference.

Friday Sept 6
5-8pm Amapola Prada / Plenary Performance
(Glasshouse Projects)

8pm Amapola Prada / Moderated Discussion
(Glasshouse Projects)

< dinner break >

10:00-11pm Kikuko Tanaka / Plenary Performance (Panoply Performance Laboratory)
“Poultry Paradise and Its Discontents: Nightshifts”

Saturday Sept 7
4:00-5:00pm Kikuko Tanaka / Moderated Discussion (Panoply Performance Laboratory)

7:00pm-12:00am Reality Research Center / Plenary Performance Act IV*
Dinner will be provided.
(Glasshouse Projects)

[Note: Only the 12 audience members from Acts I-III can participate in this final, inner sanctum Act IV of “The Symposium”]

Sunday Sept 8
1:00-4:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part I (Glasshouse Projects)

4:30-5:30pm Reality Research Center / Epilogue and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)

6:00-7:00pm Mike Taylor / Plenary Performance Part II and Moderated Discussion (Glasshouse Projects)
Moderated by Gavin Kroeber

7:30 Casual drinks & wrap-up discussion

In this intervening week, invited conference participants (scholars, artists, writers, and others) construct responses to the four plenary works in the form of performances, dialogues or writing. These works are performed or read on the following two days:

Thursday Sept 12th
7-10pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)

Friday Sept 13th
7-11pm Participant response panels and performances (Glasshouse Projects)
— In conjunction with a closing party/Glasshouse residency opening —

Glasshouse Projects
246 Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

Panoply Performance Laboratory
104 Meserole Street
Brooklyn, NY


Amapola Prada lives and works in Lima, Peru. Her practice navigates the intimate spaces within human beings unprocessed by consciousness and expressed by non- rational impulses to create symbolic works resonating the social conflicts of everyday life. Her performance work has been presented by the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, Belo Horizonte, Brasil; Performa 11; the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Mexico; and the II Bienal Internacional de Performance in Santiago de Chile, Chile. In 2011, as a Franklin Furnace Fund Fellow, her solo exhibition Modelo Para Armar: Rehearsing The City was on view at the AC Institute in New York City. She received a BA in Social Psychology from Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú.

Reality Research Center is a well-known performing arts collective based in Helsinki, Finland. Their works stem from critical perspectives that observe, question and renew the surrounding reality through performative means. During 2012-13 RRC is creating Utopian Reality, which uses the everyday as an artistic medium and invites everyone to reconfigure it with utopian practices.

Mike Taylor is a writer, director, installation artist, and performer across disciplines. Her projects have been performed, read, and shown at The Kitchen, The Invisible Dog, CUCHIFRITOS art gallery, Dixon Place, La Mama, TONIC, and elsewhere. She has recently collaborated with Ralph Lemon, Lance Gries, and, her primary collaborator in this experiment, Iki Nakagawa; and has worked extensively with Meredith Monk, Yvonne Meier, Sibyl Kempson, John Jesurun, Urban Bush Women, Richard Foreman, Dar-A-Luz, Conway & Pratt Projects, The Wooster Group, The Ridiculous Theatrical Co, and many others.

Born and raised in Japan, Kikuko Tanaka is a frantic artist based in New York. She has performed and exhibited in various venues, including Smack Mellon, Momenta Art, NARS Foundation, Center for Performance Research, Amelie A.Wallace gallery at SUNY Old Westbury, Glasshouse, Vox Populi, Arario Gallery and Panoply Performance Laboratory among others. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Info, and Hyperallergic. She was a nominatee for a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Visual Art Grant in 2010. Her open-ended multi-media tragicomic epic, A Tragic Bambi, is fiscally-sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts. She has a cross-disciplinary background in her education. She holds a BA in Landscape Design from Chiba University, and has studied fine art at School of Visual Arts, and interdisciplinary study at Hunter College and Graduate Center, New York. She is also a co-founder/ co-director of a not-for profit organization, Agape Enterprise, Brooklyn, New York.

Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater was established by Esther Neff (Panoply Performance Lab) and Yelena Gluzman (Science Project / UCSD / Ugly Duckling Presse). It is sponsored by an Honorary Fellowship for Utopian Practice from Culture Push.

To contact the organizers, please email

dolanbay's Untitled Act at PPL Space

dolanbay’s Untitled Act at PPL Space

Thank you, thank you, and thank you, for making the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) what it was…what was that???!!!


Performing Media Partner: Hyperallergic

Images from the first week of BIPAF
Images from the second week of BIPAF
Images from the third week of BIPAF
Article about La Pocha Nostra
Article about The Super Coda
Article about No Wave Performance Task Force’s Labor Debate
BIPAF is the Best Thing to do this month!
We survive at the end of this article about Jay-Z and Marina
Check out Hrag Vartanian’s FLICKR STREAM for BIPAF photos in their Brooklyn context

Felix Morelo at Gowanus Ballroom

Felix Morelo at Gowanus Ballroom

Art is Life is Art on
Eames Armstrong mentions BIPAF in the Washington Post
An much abridged and subjectively notated guide on Culturebot
State of the Art
Art article
An Art Filled Cavity on La Pocha Nostra
TAB and BIPAF in the NYTimes
AND organizer Esther Neff talks about BIPAF on GRITtv

We are acting as a fiscal sponsor for this glorious preview and benefit on March 23, it is organized by PPL co-director Esther Neff with Yelena Gluzman. Get tickets in advance if you can!

Theatre as Theory

BENEFITPOSTER3smallerA Preview Benefit for
Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lecture by Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Performances by Varispeed and other guest artists


Glasshouse Projects

246 Union Avenue 
, Brooklyn, NY
(M to Lorimer, G/L to Metropolitan-Lorimer)

Suggested donation $25 (donations over $250 tax deductible)
or reserve a seat online by donating $30 at

If you can’t make it, please consider donating to the project via Panoply Lab’s fiscal sponsor HERE

Space is very limited!

A preview of and fundraiser for the upcoming Theorems, Proofs, Rebuttals, and Propositions: A Conference of Theoretical Theater, this evening draws together artists, scholars, and also theorists working outside institutions. The lecture by Dr. Spivak, on imaginative training for epistemological performance, will act as a provocation and catalyst for further discussions and, alongside music and theatrical performances, a live auction of critical theories…

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IV Soldiers in 2011

IV Soldiers in 2011

While the commercial art world struggles to fit the performance practices of artists today into existing market models and performance artists struggle to fit their practices into existing market models and/or to resist existing market models, Ivy Castellanos, director and curator of IV Soldiers Gallery has come a long way in the past two years her storefront gallery has been open on Noll Street towards developing new modes for the presentation of Performance Art.

Slash and Burn is characteristic of Castellanos’ curatorial methodology, involving artists in a sequence of Thursday night performances and inviting them to create new performances following an action-based directive. In this case, artists have been encouraged to “resist resistance, succumb to violent impulse, insist, enforce, make space,” a directive that Castellanos identifies as a “representative aesthetic” of the gallery, drawing on her own military background and interest in the conflux between performance art and social justice. The action-based directive, the opportunity to work on a performance with a public audience over the course of three nights, and the presentation of the work in a visual arts context all provide a concrete platform for realizing performance art

IV Soldiers in 2012, 'Transformation' performance in progress

IV Soldiers in 2012, ‘Transformation’ performance in progress

blog3as a discipline. Past exhibitions at IV Soldiers have similarly provided a conceptual directive, from ‘to campaign, to advocate” for Campaign, the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, through public can collecting and social projects during iCan in October 2012, through ‘to collaboratively and improvisationally build a conceptual treehouse, to use a site, to perform using each other’ for Transformations in November, 2012.

For SLASH AND BURN: Performance Art, each night will present the performance work of Lindsey Drury, Hiroshi Shafer, Valerie Kuehne, and PPL (Esther Neff and Brian McCorkle). Performance exhibition nights are free and open to the public.


SLASH AND BURN: Performance Art

Thursdays, January 17, 24, and 31

IV Soldiers Gallery
184 Noll Street
Bushwick, Brooklyn


Valerie Kuehne

Ivy Castellanos at MANA Contemporary in Chicago, on tour with PPL and Valerie Kuehne

Ivy Castellanos


Lindsey Drury


Hiroshi Shafer at IV Soldiers

We can start over any damned time we want to. This seems as good a time as any to declare this world “new,” a slow-motion big bust passed and a new magnetism pulling matter together in ways that would have previously seemed absurd, or even impossible. There is a new odor in the air, be it the roasting of our skin cells as the sun rips through the ozone or the oozing perfume of carnivorous blooms as the foliage rapidly mutates, we keep sniffing it up like 6th graders in the craft supply closet.

Miao Jiaxin performs at PPL, 2012

Miao Jiaxin performs at PPL, 2012

PPL certainly has a new sense of itself, with a new space (Panoply Performance Laboratory, 104 Meserole Street) in which to host projects like Matthew Silver‘s monthly “Performance Art Open Mic,” (first Sunday of every month), PERFORMANCY FORUM, and the work of artists we find particularly rigorous, revelatory, and rich in substance, such as Chloë Bass‘ One-on-One Consultations for her The Bureau of Self Recognition (August 2012), a one-night exhibition with visiting artists from London’s ]performance s p a c e [Valerie Kuehne‘s curation and cognition of “performance music,” Miles Pflanz‘ book burning video-making, rehearsals for a piece by Yelena Gluzman, etc, etc, etc.

PPL bookshelf


The space, however, has only been one aspect of condensing and strengthening of an identifiable community, individuals diverse in practice yet singularly dedicated to mutualism, collaboration, non-homegenizing collectivity, shifting points of leadership, and methodological rigor in the curation, conceptualization, and creation of live, situational, social, and performance art. It doesn’t need to be controlled, it’s impossible to frame with any kind of “art historical movement” kind of insufferable pretense, it simply occurs, dare we say “naturally,” though a fetish for “naturalness” is quite certainly a false faith.

Screen shot 2012-08-03 at 1.09.20 PM

PPL’s ‘NATURE FETISH: A public opera’ in Art Review

As organically as shifts in tectonic plates however, IV Soldiers Gallery, directed and curated by Ivy Castellanos became a site for PPL’s core exploits this past year, during the iCan Exhibition and Social Project, and during the several month-long exhibitions that have radically reformed the way we work by allowing us to consistently perform short-form pieces in stimulating contexts.

participants play analog can instruments during one of PPL's  iCan exhibition performances at IV Soldiers

participants play analog can instruments during one of PPL’s iCan exhibition performances at IV Soldiers

Our practices have similarly been forcibly evolved by collaboration with Valerie Kuehne as PPL went on a tour across the Midwestern US, collaborating improvisationally with Kuehne and those present in bars, a bowling alley, a public library, at the MDW Art Fair, etc, developing modes for combining sonic art/music and object/body-based performance, improvising, and disseminating performance art using musician/band touring models. This national tour built on our experiences with Kuehne and Anya Liftig in May 2012, when we traveled to Berlin to participate in MPA-B, working reactively within dolanbay’s action installation at Grüntaler 9, participating in Performer Stammtisch, collaborating with Liftig, and doing workshops with Lioba Reckfort and the Intergalaktische Kulturverein. All of these cretaceous experiments multiply and mutate, appearing as (as a culmination of the US tour) a 12-hour “diner/opera” called You’re a Big Boy Now OR Rauschenberg ist Todlich 

You're A Big Boy Now OR Rauschenberg ist Todlich (photo by Sissie Strutt)

You’re A Big Boy Now OR Rauschenberg ist Todlich (photo by Sissie Strutt)

performed with Kuehne at Fitness Center for Arts and Tactics (the new gallery opened by Pflanz and cohort that pulled 14 artists/groups into an epic 14-day exhibition of “marathon” durational and relational performances), conceptions of performance as involving the acts of curation and organization that surround the public presentations themselves, and the initiating of The Compendium, a temporary collaboration between organizer-artists who produced Technics, a two-night exhibition dealing with technology/technique at Center for Performance Research in June 2012, and now a new unnamed but much larger group that is instigating the online and networked participatory, mass performance/festival Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF), which will culminate July 4-28, 2013.

Other events have seemed to effect PPL as shifts in weather, for example the projects involving PPL co-directors Brian McCorkle and Esther Neff outside of PPL, such as Brian’s work as part of Varispeed, the collective, which produced John Cage’s Empty Words as a sprawling opus spanning Roulette, Exapno, the Brooklyn Bridge, and 12 hours of sound, text, and music. More recently, Esther has become part of the No Wave Performance Task Force, instigated by Lindsey Drury (for whom Esther created a text/sound score for the dance Run Little Girl at Merce Cunningham Studios in February 2012 and with whom PPL are collaborating to create Any Size Mirror is a Dictator, our 2013 opera) and made concrete via collaborative, feminist-form durational performances (Transformation and Embody Explosion organized by Ivy Castellanos), and other events and meetings.

'PPL Help the Water' at the Gowanus Ballroom during 'To the Stars on the Wings of an Eel'

‘PPL Help the Water’ at the Gowanus Ballroom during ‘To the Stars on the Wings of an Eel’

The more chaotic the environment/situation, the more performance thrives as a way of experiencing existence; states of becoming, recognizing, cognizing, relating, and communicating compose the now, and there is no ideal or eventual position of stability expected or even desired…ideas, spaces, organizations and other collectives, books, all the individuals with whom we’ve collaborated this past year, been curated by, curated/hosted, organized alongside, met with, all combine to construct a relational ecosystem too complex and fragile to parse, too specific to identify as any version of the world we’ve seen before…


tumblr_md4ltxqVFV1ref40po1_1280photo of Brian McCorkle by Eyal Perry

PPL Homage to Allan Kaprow: Any Size Mirror is a Dictator #4

Glasshouse Projects
homage series

an audience of performers
only simple instructions and signs on the walls suggest action
wine, chalk/chalkboard, envelopes, flannel shirts are given
we understand ourselves to be performing
the wine helps
certain instructions are interpreted, also text
we perform together, ecstatically
purely on impulse yet in fabricated situ
soup is eaten
a short opera is memorized by all and sung in public
gas station, baseball diamond, street, etc
more people join us
we all keep performing