Performa NY Has announced the winner of the second edition of the Malcolm McLaren Award. Ryan McNamara took the prize, following in the spirit of McLaren, a champion of the young and bold. The prize is awarded at each Performa biennial to an artist who demonstrates the most innovative and thought-provoking performance during the biennial. The award was presented by artist Christian Marclay at the Performa 13 Grand Finale. The evening—hosted by writer Glenn O’Brien—celebrated both the closing of the biennial as well as the 30th Anniversary of McLaren’s maverick album, Duck Rock.
McNamara received both a cash prize of $10,000, sponsored by The Vinyl Factory, along with an award created by designer Marc Newson in honor of his performance, MEƎM: A STORY BALLET ABOUT THE INTERNET. A jury consisting of artist and Performa veteran Adam Pendleton, writer Linda Yablonsky, and Issue Project Room’s Lawrence Kumpf selected the award winner. The jury noted:
“Performa is to be congratulated for this year’s exciting program. It was dedicated to exploring a broad range of different kinds of performance and bringing known and unknown artists to our attention from New Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective to the Norwegian artist Tori Wrånes.”
Ryan McNamara fulfills the goal of the Performa Commissions for an artist to use the time and support provided by Performa to break new grounds in their work, and to take performance in new directions. With MEƎM McNamara also turned the idea of spectatorship on its head, furthering the passivity of the audience by literally moving them around the theater, one by one, on specially designed chairs, echoing the ways in which we surf the web, constantly moving between images. An ambitious and exciting work.”
McNamara’s MEƎM: A STORY BALLET ABOUT THE INTERNET was a choreographic exploration of the online world as a space of engagement, and of the digital architecture that conditions current anxieties over influence and transmission. Exploring our sense of what we do when we copy, steal, appropriate, create, repeat, plagiarize, mine, or tweet, the performance engages several coexisting conceptions of the Internet: as utopic commons of unfettered communication; as sinister military infrastructure; as unchecked clutter approaching an unfathomable critical density; and as motor for a 24/7 infotainment culture.
In 2009, Performa and McLaren planned to produce a collaborative live performance lecture as a highlight of the Performa 09 biennial, plans sadly cut short by a tragic loss. Young Kim, heir to the estate of Malcolm McLaren, and curator Mark Beasley organized this award to celebrate McLaren’s tremendous spirit and legacy of innovation. The inaugural award for Performa 11 (November 1–21, 2011) was presented by writer Greil Marcus and musician Lou Reed during the Performa Grand Finale at the Bowery Hotel.
Malcolm McLaren (English, b. 1946 London, England; d. Switzerland, 2010) was a visionary of pop culture and a pop cultural icon. An artist in the most post-modern sense of the word, time and time again, he was at the forefront of movements. Starting as a young student in London’s art schools including Goldsmiths Art College and St. Martin’s, he studied drawing and painting before experimenting in radical, politicized artworks inspired by the Internationale Situationniste, the most famous of which was Punk. All his various life-long activities—as legendary shop conceptualist (Let It Rock, Too Fast To Live Too Young to Die, Sex, Seditionaries, World’s End and Nostalgia of Mud), his 12-year design partnership with Vivienne Westwood, pop music group creator and manager (Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow), singer/composer (Duck Rock, Fans, Waltz Darling, Paris), lecturer, performer, producer, filmmaker, director, philosopher, politician (running for Mayor of London in 1999) and of course his art films, Shallow 1-21 and Paris, Capital of the XXIst Century were expressions of his art.
Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading international organisation dedicated to exploring the critical role of live visual art performance in the history of the twentieth century and to generating new directions for the twenty-first century, engaging artists and audiences through experimentation, innovation, and collaboration. Performa’s unique commissioning, touring, and year-round education programs, involving all disciplines, forge a new course for contemporary art and culture, and culminate in the Performa biennial in New York City every other November. In 2005, Performa launched the first-ever biennial dedicated to visual art performance, Performa 05, which was then followed by Performa 07 (2007), Performa 09 (2009), Performa 11 (2011), and Performa 13 (2013).
Since its inception, Performa has operated as both an urban and international project demonstrating how organizations can collaborate to present major arts programs that are both artistically innovative and internationally relevant. Performa has developed partnerships with major international institutions, commissioning, producing, and touring work from the Performa program from the very beginning. The Performa Institute, a platform for the research and educational components of Performa, presents lectures, panel discussions, and workshops on an ongoing basis that explore critical issues surrounding performance and its history across disciplines.
For Performa 13, the orgranization presented more than 100 separate events at over 40 venues, showcasing new work across disciplines including visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts. Presented in collaboration with a consortium of more than 50 arts institutions and over 50 curators. www.performa-arts.org
The Performa 13 Grand Finale was made possible by ABSOLUT. The Malcolm McLaren Award was sponsored by The Vinyl Factory.