As we greet 2014, The Present Tense shares its reflections on 2013. 2013 was a fruitful year, offering countless moments for experiential art. Here are 13 of these moments that The Present Tense found inspirational.
13. In April, Boston Center for the Art’s Cyclorama was activated by Vela Phelan’s Near Death Performance Art Experience (NDPAE). In a simple stroke of irony, NDPAE had its own experience with death. Originally scheduled to unfold over 2 days at Fourth Wall Project in Boston and after months of planning, Fourth Wall was temporarily shut down due to permitting issues, a historic plague among Boston alternative art spaces. NDPAE was postponed until further notice. The event fortunately found shelter at the Boston Center for the Art’s Cyclorama, a stunning space with a history of being used as a war memorial. NDPAE was rescheduled for April 21, 2013, less than 1 week after the Boston Marathon Bombings. In this 7 hour performance art event, artists created live works around the theme of life and death. Both the context and content of the work at NDPAE made for an intense experience for all to remember.
12. This year saw the beginning of new and important series of curated performances in the Museum of Fine Arts. Odd Spaces, curated by Liz Munsell, was the first of the series and included artists from Boston and New York. Musell is no stranger to performance, and “Odd Spaces” has frequently been referenced as a very successful collaboration between local community and institution. Liz’s choice to have the event on the MFAs weekly free night, as well as a panel discussion immediately after, encouraged a discourse between artist, audience, and curator within the walls of the respected institution.
11. A stand out piece this year was created at Odd Spaces at the MFA. Marilyn Arsem’s 6 1/2 hour piece, “With the Others” challenged what it means to experience a live event. Hidden beneath a bench in the Egyptian Galleries of the MFA, Arsem’s body was anointed with Jasmine and covered in black cloth. The aroma filled the halls leading to the space where only the curious would discover Arsem’s living body amongst the mummies and other artifacts in the room.
10. During the summer of 2013, a marathon of performance art festivals occurred throughout the United States! Chicago’s annual international performance art festival, Rapid Pulse activated the Wicker Park neighborhood for 2 weeks. Rosslyn Arts Project, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, and The Pink Line Project debuted the Supernova Festival throughout Rosslyn, Virginia, in raw spaces, office lobbies, rooftops, parks, the Metro station, and other public places. Edge Zones presented the second annual Miami Performance International Festival that provided 4 weeks of programming throughout the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and the Miami Design District. The Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF) used 11 spaces in Brooklyn and involved over 150 artists from all over the world with the aim of creating constructive institutional critique as an attempt to relationally construct new economic and social contexts for performance art. Alejandra Herrera and Jamie McMurry curated the 4th installment of Perform Chinatown in Los Angeles. Presented works ranged from street interventions to body- driven works. Durational performance installations unfolded throughout the event in large boxes that lined Chung King Road.
09. Also in the summer of 2013, Anthony Greaney closed its doors, but hosted many memorable shows that supported performance and other experimental time-based media. Greaney’s presence on Harrison Ave in Boston was a testament to Boston’s need for space to show experimental work, and to challenge the status quo of what Boston’s art scene really looks like. It’s no secret that many lament the loss of this space. Some noteworthy exhibitions this year included the Tactic Series, Pan Act, Epoch and RE:Present Me.
08. Grace Exhibition Space in Brooklyn has made it their mission to glorify performance art since 2006. In 2013, Directors Jill McDermid-Hokanson and Erik Hokanson acquired a second space in Kingston, NY. GRAY ZONE for Performance Art adds an exciting new context to support their programming!
07. Temporary Land Bridge, run by Kirk Snow and Andrea Evans, launched over the Fall of this year. Land Bridge further contributes to Boston’ s network of of support within the creative community, doing so by giving artists interviews, reviews, and “statements” where the artists themselves curate the content of their posts. Temporary Land Bridge offers an exciting new resource for artists working across media.
06. In 2013, we saw artists, curators, and organizations continuing to explore the interstices between art and social practice. Suzanne Lacy’s “Between the Door and the Street” supported by Creative Time, was a notable moment of performance art serving as activism and was not without its own controversy. This piece has sprouted dialogues around the complex relationship between art and activism, bringing opinions around issues of conduct, authorship, privilege, and agency to the surface.
05. The First Biennial Festival of Performance Art and Sound Art came to The Quarry, an arts campus under the auspices of Contemporary Arts International (CAI) in Acton, MA. A stand out moment was JV’s (Jeff Huckleberry and Vela Phelan) 24 hour collaborative piece, “Poach” in the woods.
04. The spectacle of Marina Abramovic´ continues! In 2013, we followed the Kickstarter campaign used to raise funds to make the Marina Abramovic´Institute a reality, watched a video of Lady Gaga practicing the Abromovic´method and Jay Z’s attempt at performance art go viral. It is safe to say that performance art is no longer hidden in the shadows of society. Whether one thinks this direction is desirable or detrimental, this has certainly inspired interesting conversations throughout the year.
03. The DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum’s Paint Things show was a strong exhibition throughout. A stand out moment of the exhibition was Claire Ashley’s inflatable sculptures that were created on sight. The Chicago-based artist brought these sculptures to life with her playful delegated performance piece, “Double Disco” this past Spring. Jim Dine’s hearts will never be the same.
02. Mobius’ Fall programming was exceptional, featuring exciting works by local artists and artists from across the globe. Some stand outs include Ieke Trinks,“Dynamorphic” by Nedregard and and Hillary, Ampala Prada, and Antoni Karwowski/ Daniel S. DeLuca/ Vela Phelan.
1. After years of living in boxes, storage units, basements, and other inaccessible places, Mobius’s massive 37 year old archive has been inducted into the Tufts Library. Over the next few years, the archive will become more and more accessible, revealing an important part of the history of experimental and experiential art.