Rachel Valinsky

  • Trajal Harrell, The Köln Concert, Théâtre de la cité, Paris, 2022. Photo: Reto Schmid.
    performance January 05, 2023

    All That Jazz

    THE AUDIENCE SAUNTERS into the theater, immersed in distracted chatter, half-consciously awaiting the dimming of the stage lights. But they stay on longer than expected. Upstage, barefoot, hands clasped behind his back and wearing a floral dress around his neck, Trajal Harrell has been watching this routine unfold from the start. With bemusement? Apprehension? Measured curiosity? Occasionally, he bends over to warmly greet an acquaintance parked up near the stage or pulls a tissue out of his pocket to wipe his runny nose. The performance has already begun, if unremarkably. Feeling the room,

  • Madeline Hollander, Review, 2021, Performa Commission for the Performa 2021 Biennial. From left: Ashley Hill, Jodi Melnick, Frances Samson, Savannah Spratt, MeghanManning, Michael Greenberg, Megan LeCrone, Eloise Deluca, Olivia Boisson, Miriam Miller, Alexa De Barr (far back) Kevin Zambrano, Lauren Newman, Misha Culver. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk, courtesy of Performa.
    performance November 24, 2021

    Test and Trace

    STRANGE THAT IT'S BEEN years since I last saw live performance. But everyone was exclaiming this now-familiar platitude as they busily embraced on the sidewalk at the intersection of Rivington and Orchard the past October, during the collective reunion which took as its backdrop and pretext Kevin Beasley’s The Sound of Morning. The first of eight commissions realized for this year’s Performa Biennial, the performance began almost unnoticeably. One of Beasley’s collaborators flung a deflated basketball into the air; another began methodically disassembling a black metal barrier that had been

  • Screenshot from Twitch stream of Carissa Rodriguez and George Liu, This is living, 2020. Image courtesy of Center for Experimental Lectures.
    performance June 17, 2020

    Talk to Me

    THE ARTIST’S TALK CAN BE A DULL AFFAIR: a PowerPoint presentation attesting to careerism and credentialization, an exposition of past and current projects and institutional engagements, uninspired commentary by an artist who seemed fascinating at a distance. The contemporary circuitry of MFA visiting lectureships alone harks back to the form’s origins in academic professionalization, which has largely become a requirement for critical and commercial success despite the unbearable (and unjustifiable) burden of graduate school tuition. Born out of boredom with this standardization of the lecture

  • Kia LaBeija, Untitled, The Black Act, 2019. Performance view, Performance Space New York, New York, November 7–9, 2019. Commissioned by Performa and Performance Space New York for the Performa 19 Biennial and Performance Space New York’s Stages Series. Photo: Julieta Cervantes.
    performance December 04, 2019

    Action Figures

    NOVEMBER WAS THE MONTH of overscheduled evenings, stacked with events sprawling across three weeks and forty venues for the eighth iteration of Performa. The brainchild of RoseLee Goldberg, the biennial has since 2005 promoted the field of performance art as a coherent subdiscipline of the visual arts, drawing on histories of the avant-garde to firmly tie the field’s lineage to art history. In fact, it is Performa’s habit to produce new commissions undertaken by visual artists with little experience in live media (at the expense, often, of supporting practitioners already active in this domain),

  • Kristen Kosmas, The People’s Republic of Valerie: Living Room Edition. Performance view, The Chocolate Factory (offsite), New York, October 2019. Photo: Brian Rogers.
    performance November 11, 2019

    Kosmic Inflation

    “YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN UP / ON A WORLD HAVE YOU?” asked Bernadette Mayer in the epilogue to a slim volume of poems titled Utopia (1984). “You know traditional utopias are no place / as ours will ever be,” she continued, entreating whomever so wished to “add all you would to / what is already here / together we will put / things on paper that / ‘ve never been there.” Mayer found utopia in social formations, love, and friendship, playfully staging its trials and tribulations in the pages of her book. Utopian thinking, both as narrative conceit and as practice of social imagination, similarly informs