Performa 15 Announces Artist Line Up And Programme

New York – Performa, the internationally acclaimed organisation dedicated to live performance across disciplines, has announced its full artist list for Performa 15. The sixth edition brings together more than 30 artists from 12 countries around the world to participate in three weeks of exciting programming including Performa Commissions, Performa Projects, Performa Premieres, Performa Hub, Pavilion Without Walls, and more—breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, film, and architecture. With Performa 15, Performa celebrates its 10th Anniversary and illuminates the extensive influence of the organization and its program. Performa 15 marks a more selective edition, adding extraordinary new work to the genre. The program highlights a strong group of new artists while celebrating retur ning art ists in honor of its first decade. For each biennial, Performa pays homage to a bygone era through a historical anchor, such as Futurism and Russian Constructivism, showing the prevalence of live art during earlier periods; this year the historic reference is The Renaissance. 

“The program takes the viewer across a wide spectrum of ideas, providing examples of what it means to be a visual artist working live, working with space and time while always with a highly visual focus” says RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Curator of Performa. “Each work contains complex issues, of society, art and politics, and it’s fascinating to see how each artist uses the many layers of live performance to express various viewpoints, while finding ways in the process of engaging an audience in their conversation.”

Since its inception Performa has been a leader in commissioning artists whose works have shaped a new chapter in the multi-century legacy of visual artists working in live performance. Performa 15 will take place on November 1 – 22, 2015, at locations throughout New York City.

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Since launching New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, the organization has solidified its identity as a commissioning and producing entity. As a “museum without walls,” Performa provides important art historical heft to the field by showing the development of live art in all its forms from many different cultural perspectives reaching back to the Renaissance. The Performa Biennial is celebrated world wide as the first biennial to give specialized attention to this remarkable history, transforming the city of New York into the ‘world capital of artists’ performance’ every other November. Performa attracts a national and international audience of m ore than 200,000 and receives more than 5,000,000 website hits during its three week run. In the last decade Performa has presented 592 performances, worked with 732 artists, and toured commissioned performances in 17 countries around the world.

The Curatorial Team for Performa 15 is led by RoseLee Goldberg and includes Performa curators Adrienne Edwards, Charles Aubin, and Mark Beasley, as well as curators from a consortium of more than 30 ocultural institutions. Performa 15 is produced by Esa Nickle.


OPENING NIGHT – Sunday, November 1, 2015:

Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli in collaboration with American classical ballet dancer David Hallberg, principle dancer for the Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theater, will launch Opening Night of Performa 15 on Sunday, November 1, 2015. Vezzoli and Hallberg will use the Renaissance as a point of departure for their commission to create choreography that reflects the origins of ballet in the 15th-century. The result of carefully researched material that begins with written text, Hallberg-Vezzoi will present Renaissance dance in its earliest form, bringing into question the powerful rituals of the courts, the importance of architecture in performance, and the roles of dancer and audience.


Performa Commissions originate new performances by inviting artists, some of whom have not worked ‘live’ before, to create work especially for the Performa biennial. Artists receive financial awards
and unique production support to realize innovative works of live performance, working closely with Performa’s curatorial and production teams, from conceptualization to presentation, which includes international tours following the biennial. 

Edgar Arceneaux – Until, Until, Until… Edgar Arceneaux’s mise-en-scène of Ben Vereen’s controversial, televised performance at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 presidential inauguration takes inspiration from the 5-minute portion that was censored that night.

Jérôme Bel – Ballet (New York). Jérôme Bel draws a group of trained and untrained performers from New York on a bold adventure across the city to consider how each environment—dance studio, white cube, and theater—frames the way we look at and ‘feel’ dance. Co-commissioned by Marian Goodman.

Pauline Curnier Jardin – The House of Resurrection. Curnier Jardin presents an immersive event that draws on pop culture, witchcraft, and the animal kingdom paying tribute to Renaissance “misfits” Arcimboldo, Palissy, and Rabelais.  

Ryan Gander – Ernest Hawker. Ryan Gander imagines his future self: a conflicted avatar who briefly appears in and around the biennial selling his wares to an unsuspecting public.

Agatha Gothe-Snape – Out of Sight of Polaris. Australian artist Agatha Gothe-Snape presents an improvised choral performance and PowerPoint Presentation, considering the physical body’s role in transmitting knowledge through the gestural and textual lexicon of Lawrence Weiner.  Co-commissioned by Performance Space, Sydney, Australia.

Jesper Just – Untitled. Jesper Just returns for Performa 15 with a commission on the 10th anniversary of his performance that inaugurated the first Performa biennial, which dislocates audience and performer through architecture, film, and crowd-sourcing. In collaboration with Danish artist FOS.

Wyatt Kahn – Work. Kahn takes on the role of puppet master, presenting a tongue-in-cheek performance in which his paintings come to life as hand puppets which discuss and critique themselves and their maker, eventually rising up against him. 

Laura Lima – Gala Chickens and Ball. Brazilian artist Laura Lima presents a work conceived as a series of experimental encounters that shift commonly held ideas about the nature of performance and performers.

Oscar Murillo – Lucky dip. Oscar Murillo takes up residence at the U.S. Customs House on Bowling Green posing questions about trade and globalization on a macroeconomic scale; exploring the ways capital molds individual lives, relationships, and communities. 

Robin Rhode – Erwartung: A Street Opera. Robin Rhode reimagines Austrian composer Arnold Schönberg’s atonal opera about love, loss and longing to reflect the experiences of South African women awaiting the return of their husbands. Presented in Times Square.

Francesco Vezzoli and David Hallberg – Fortunata Desperato. Artist Francesco Vezzoli and dancer David Hallberg present a performance that explores the birth of ballet in the royal courts of the Italian Renaissance. 

Erika Vogt – Artist Theater Program. Erika Vogt brings together a group of LA-based artists including Math Bass and Shannon Ebner, to imagine a live exhibition, unfolding in space as well as time, that plays with the mechanics of the theater.


Performa Projects are commissions that enable artists to create new work that is generally more eclectic, experimental, and process centered, sometimes providing more intimate experiences.

Derrick Adams – Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal/SIDESHOW. Inspired by Pablo Fanque (1796-1871), Britain’s first black circus owner, artist Derrick Adams acts as ringmaster for a portable circus of sideshow performances at the Performa Hub.

Jonathas de Andrade – A Study of Race and Class – Bahia >< New York. Jonathas de Andrade’s work reimagines UNESCO’s 1952 report “Race and Class in Rural Brazil” within New York City, creating an ethnographic experiment where the audience participates as viewers and subjects.

Juliana Huxtable – There Are Certain Facts That Cannot Be Disputed. Juliana Huxtable presents a raucous performance that considers cyberspace as a twilight zone of precariousness and preservation, traversing closed servers, bounced URLs, and Google cache as human and digital characters. Co-commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art.  

Will Rawls – Personal Effects. Will Rawls’ new solo work takes the history of dance as its point of departure, recombining vocabularies, images, and phrases that have shaped his body as a vehicle for performance. 

Eve Sussman – More Up a Tree.  Visual artist and filmmaker Eve Sussman collaborates with choreographer Claudia de Serpa Soares and drummer, Jim White, to create a dance/sculpture/performance in which the fourth wall is also a window.  Presented in collaboration with Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.


Performa Premieres presents exceptional live works that have premiered elsewhere but have not been seen in New York. Despite the earlier debut, the works are changed by the new setting and context of New York City.

Volmir Cordeiro – Inês. In this North-American premiere of his solo, Cordeiro explores the insatiable desire for fame and the dynamic give-and-take between celebrity and fan, through his assumed identity of Inês. 

Heather Phillipson – FINAL DAYS. Heather Phillipson deconstructs the modern department store in a video installation that pits the retail landscape against the new frontiers of online shopping.

Ulla von Brandenburg – Sink Down Mountain, Rise Up Valley. Ulla von Brandenburg investigates the rituals of the Saint-Simonians, a 19th century cult credited with the birth of French socialism, through an 18-minute film shot in a single take


Pavilion Without Walls connects international artists with global audiences and the New York City arts community through collaborations between pavilion cultural partners and Performa’s team to develop a curatorial program for the biennial. This year’s biennial highlights Australia and investigates critical concerns relating to the nation’s isolation, colonial history, perceived ‘provincialism,’ Asian-Pacific geographic identity, and the cultural impact of Aboriginal activism.

In partnership with Performance Space, Artspace, and the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Pavilion Without Walls will consist of live performances, performance history research, analysis of the cultural landscape of Australia through the lens of contemporary art, and will feature artists Agatha Gothe-Snape, Brian Fuata, Richard Bell, Zheng Mahler, Justene Williams, and Art Historian Terry Smith.

Richard Bell – Tent Embassy. Richard Bell stages an Aboriginal Embassy, featuring programming that draws attention to the relationship between performance and protest, and the issues faced by Indigenous Australians today.

Brian Fuata – Untitled. Working in concert with the Ray Johnson Estate, Australian artist Brian Fuata presents a series of performances in dialogue with the mail art pioneer’s extensive archives.

Justene Williams – The Curtain Breathed Deeply. Justene Williams blends voodoo and shamanistic rituals with pop culture in a surreal and immersive performance that speaks to our most primitive fears and desires. 

Agatha Gothe –Snape (see under Commissions)

Zheng Mahler – New York Post-Et Prefiguratif (Before and After New York). Art collective Zheng Mahler explores the economic relationships between Asia and Africa, melding these distinct narratives in a performance that draws on the immigration patterns of New York City.


Performa Hub, started in 2009, is an architectural commission that functions as the biennial’s headquarters. Offering a venue for special performances, screenings, panel discussions, artists’ seminars, a lounge, shop, and visitor information center. Performa Hub is an architectural manifestation of Performa’s vision, a place for bringing to life publically the conceptual underpinnings of the organization, serving as a proposal for a kind of architecture that draws the public in as participants—literally directing them to various activities by using changing seating arrangements, or moving walls to create a recording studio, box office, reading room, meeting space, lecture theater, performance and exhibition space, or venue for food events.


The Performa Institute provides a platform for the research and educational components of the biennial and serves as a laboratory for artistic experiments. A space for the research, exploration, and presentation of ideas with a focus on the study of history, art, and culture, this dynamic locus stimulates an ongoing dialogue throughout the biennial with daily “master” classes, propositions, lectures, screenings, and selections of experimental performances and installations. Performa Institute program runs daily throughout the biennial. Performa 15 artists-in-residence include:

Chimurenga – Library. South African collective Chimurenga presents a multi-tiered programming platform in the Performa 15 Hub, hosting a library-of-people through a broad spectrum of collaborators to create improvised bodies of knowledge.

Eleonora Fabião – Things That Must Be Done Series. Eleonora Fabião creates experimental group performances that unfold in the streets of New York City, exploring geometry, abstraction, political potential, and vulnerability in capitalist societies.


Derrick Adams (b. 1970, Baltimore, Maryland)

Edgar Arceneaux (b. 1972, Los Angeles, California)

Nina Beier (b. 1975, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Jérôme Bel (b. 1964, Paris, France)

Richard Bell (b. 1953, Charleville, Queensland)

Chimurenga (f. 2002, South Africa)

Volmir Cordeiro (b.1987, Santa Catarina, Brazil)

Pauline Curnier Jardin (b. 1980, Pertuis, France)

Jonathas de Andrade (b. 1982, Maceió, Brazil)

Eleonora Fabião (b. 1968, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Brian Fuata (b. 1978, Wellington, New Zealand)

Simon Fujiwara (b. 1982, London, England)

Ryan Gander (b. 1976, London, England)

Agatha Gothe-Snape (b. 1980, Sydney, Australia)

David Hallberg (b. 1982, Rapid City, South Dakota)

Juliana Huxtable (b. 1987, Bryan-College Station, Texas)

Jesper Just (b. 1974, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Wyatt Kahn (b. 1983, New York)

Laura Lima (b. 1971, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Zheng Mahler (Royce Ng and Daisy Bisenieks, b. 1983, f. 1993, Melbourne, Australia)

Oscar Murillo (b. 1986, La Paila, Colombia)

Christodoulos Panayiotou (b. 1978, Limassol, Cyprus)

Heather Phillipson (b. 1978, London, England)

Will Rawls (b. 1978, Boston, Massachusetts)

Robin Rhode (b. 1976, Cape Town)

Eve Sussman (b. 1961, London, England)

Francesco Vezzoli (b. 1971, Brescia, Italy)

Erika Vogt (b. 1973, Newark, New Jersey)

Ulla von Brandenburg (b. 1974, Karlsruhe, Germany)

Justene Williams (b. 1970, Sydney, Australia)

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