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Samson Young, sketch for Performa 19 Commission, 2019.

Performa 19 Announces First Commissions by Ed Atkins, Yvonne Rainer, Samson Young, and More

Performa, the New York biennial dedicated to performance art, revealed today the first commissions for its eighth edition, which will take place from November 1 to November 24, 2019. The biennial will feature works by Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ed Atkins, Nairy Baghramian, Tarik Kiswanson, Paul Pfeiffer, and Samson Young, among others, and will draw inspiration from the spirit of the Bauhaus. This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the art and architecture school.

Projects range from musicals, such as Arunanondchai’s new work, which is based on the idea of the Ghost Cinema—a post–Vietnam War ritual in Thailand in which outdoor screenings function as communions between the audience and the spirits—to the reimagining of influential works such as Yvonne Rainer’s Parts of Some Sextets, an early piece from 1965, which will be reconstructed from notes, diagrams, and photographs now housed in the Getty Archives.  

Since its founding in 2005, Performa has examined a different critical moment in art history with each iteration. Previous editions focused on Futurism, Russian Constructivism, Dada, Surrealism, and the Renaissance. Performa 19 will look to the Bauhaus’s revolutionary approach to interdisciplinary experimentation, its theater workshop, and the opportunities it provided for students and faculty to explore the intersections of art, industrial production, and technology. The biennial will ask the question: What is the art school of the twenty-first century?

“One of Performa’s important roles is to provide critical historical background and context for today’s performances by visual artists,” said founding director and chief curator RoseLee Goldberg. “Another is to work closely with commissioned artists over an extended period of time, providing them with the full support of the Performa team at all levels. We are thrilled to be working with artists from more than a dozen different parts of the world, and to be introduced to the cultural and political references that make his or her individual work so essential and compelling to our understanding of the times in which we live.”

The curatorial team for Performa 19 is led by Goldberg and is made up of Kathy Noble, curator and manager of curatorial affairs; Charles Aubin, curator; Job Piston, special projects manager; and Victor Wang, associate curator. The production of Performa 19 is led by producing director Esa Nickle.