In her groundbreaking book Performance Art: From Futurism To The Present (1979), art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg showed that performance is central to the history of 20th century art. In 2005 she launched Performa 05, the first biennial of visual art performance, and predicted that performance would become “the medium of the 21st century.” Indeed, its time has come.
Performance Now is a selection of works by artists from a vast repository of new performance from around the world since 2000, a period that has witnessed an exponential growth in the field. Bringing together some of the most significant practitioners today, Performance Now surveys critical and experimental currents in performance internationally, featuring key Performa commissions, and works by Marina Abramović, Jérôme Bel, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, William Kentridge, and Clifford Owens, among others. Together the works in the exhibition are an indication of the extent to which visual artists use performance as part of their creative process; how that process produces objects, installations, video, or photography; and how these mediums have been enlivened by the demands of recording performance in innovative ways. Exploring live performance, artists capture its ephemerality and transform it into new work that contains the power and content of the original.
With performance art departments being established in many major museums throughout the world, and performance recognized as one of the most significant artistic forms of the 20th century, this exhibition provides a window onto these important developments. There has been much reflection on the complexities of displaying, collecting, preserving and explaining conceptual material that had so profoundly shaped artistic developments in the final decades of the 20th century, yet which, paradoxically, was ephemeral and almost invisible. At the same time, contemporary performance is activating the museum, drawing new and young audiences to these institutions.
Performance Now is a traveling exhibition co-organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and Performa, New York. The curator for the exhibition is RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Curator of Performa. The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, by grants from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the ICI Board of Trustees; and donors to ICI’s Access Fund.