Critics’ Picks

View of “Renegades,” 2007.

New York


Exit Art
475 Tenth Avenue
December 16–January 27

Mining twenty-five years of photographic and video documentation, Exit Art’s performance retrospective “Renegades” fills its warehouse space with elevated floor screens, video monitors, and wall projections to show work that argues for the continued relevance of performance to visual production. Beginning with “Illegal America,” a 1982 exhibition documenting Vito Acconci's, Chris Burden's, Gordon Matta-Clark's, and other artists’ clashes with the law in making their art, Exit Art has used the intersection between Conceptual, performance, and visual art as the basis for its programming. Artists were asked to build installations to serve as backdrops to 1996’s “Terra Bomba” performance series, and costumes to correspond to their paintings in 1995's “Imaginary Beings,” presenting the visual remnants of performance as art objects. A 1987 re-creation of the Russian Constructivist play Good Treatment for Horses (1922) explores theater’s reliance on the visual, while the 1994 experiment “Let the Artist Live” asked fifteen artists to share the gallery as a live/work space, revealing the theatricality of artmaking itself. Using the body of the performer as the intermediary between the object and audience, many of the pieces are endurance tests for artists, like 1996’s “Shape of Sound” series, wherein Adam Putnam contorted himself to fit into a sofa and Sue De Beer inserted her hands and feet into the whimsical installation Car Crash for hours on end. The show is supplemented by two nights of continuous on-site performances by contemporary practitioners.