Pavilions Without Walls

 New York

This year’s Performa 13 biennial will include “Pavilions Without Walls.” Running from November 1 – 24, 2013, the program will set up large-scale collaborations between Performa and participating countries to connect the foreign artists, cultural institutions and global industry workers with a broad audience. The pavilions will be modelled after the Venice Biennale pavilions, minus the actual built structures or limitations of only supporting artists of certain nationalities.  

Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg discusses this newly launched program. 

 Natural Enough?, 2010. Performance at Hove Festival, Arendal, Norway.

Natural Enough?, 2010. Performance at Hove Festival, Arendal, Norway.

What is the reason for the national pavilions? Is there a need for these types of national borders?

RoseLee Goldberg: I decided that I wanted a much richer relationship with a particular country than the one that occurs when requesting funding to support a particular artist. Rather than work with a single artist only, I wished to spend time getting to know the politics and culture of a particular place, to have our curators and theirs meet and to develop a program together that is rich and deeply investigative. We’re now working with two countries, Norway and Poland and the richness of these relationships is truly thrilling, for both sides I believe. Not only have we been able to reach into their histories, to experience their politics and food and late-night life (three of our team have visited each country), but we’ve met artists and curators and cultural commentators, and we’re putting together a program that reflects those conversations and the knowledge that we have shared. We’ve all learned so much from each other. It’s a real exchange.

 BOBO, This I can`t tell you. Performance at Hennie Onstad Kunstsenter. Part of the exhibition “To be hear is to be seen”, 2009. Photo: Eirik Slyngstad.

BOBO, This I can`t tell you. Performance at Hennie Onstad Kunstsenter. Part of the exhibition “To be hear is to be seen”, 2009. Photo: Eirik Slyngstad.

How are the participants selected?

RLG: As with all good relationships, the decision to work with a particular group came from getting to know each other over time. We became very close to the cultural representatives from Norway when we produced Elmgreen and Dragset’sHappy Days in the Art World in New York and in Bergen, and we both wanted to continue the conversation. They were instantly receptive to our proposal of the Pavilion Without Walls, and we’re having a truly thrilling time working together. Regarding Poland, several curators from Poland have attended Performa over the years, and they approached us about working more closely together. Once we came up with the Pavilion Without Walls program, they immediately signed on. I should add that part of the program involves bringing two young curators and producers to New York from each country, to be part of our team, and it will also involve taking Performa projects back to those countries, following the biennial. So the relationship is a two-way pipeline of ideas, aesthetics, artists and artwork. It’s a very layered and very deep think tank with long-term implications.

 Tell us a bit about the inaugural performances from Norway and Poland.

RLG: As a starting point, Performa has initiated relationships with curators and organizations in Norway and Poland to develop programming collaboratively. In Norway we’re working with the Hordaland Art Centre, the Henie-Onstad Art Center, Kunstnernes Hus and Kunsthall Oslo among others, and we have commissioned the first Norwegian project by artist Tori Wranes with Ny Musikk. In Poland we are in conversation with partners such as the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle and Cricoteka, Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor. We will be announcing individual Polish projects very soon.

This interview was published in Flash Art International summer edition 2013.

About Performa:

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading international organization 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 launched New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, followed by Performa 07 (2007), and Performa 09 (2009), Performa 11 (2011).

Performa 13 will take place from Friday, November 1 through Sunday, November 24. The 24-day program of more than 100 separate events presented at over 40 venues across the city will be announced over the coming months through video press releases, behind the scenes studio visits with Performa 13 artists, interviews with the more than 30 curators responsible for selecting and working with artists from around the world, and sneak previews from cities as far a field as Johannesburg, Delhi, Shanghai, Oslo, Warsaw and Singapore.

This edition’s  historical “anchor” is Surrealism. Performa 13 will address the legacy of Surrealism with inputs in modern and contemporary art such as the liberation of the psyche, poetry, “the marvelous,” and artists’ engagement with politics.