A performance by Brooklyn-based performance artist Rob Andrews at English Kills Art Gallery back in 2011.

A 2011 performance by Brooklyn-based performance artist Rob Andrews, who, along with dozens of other artists, will be performing this month during BIPAF. (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

While most Americans celebrate Independence Day with backyard barbecues and booze, in Brooklyn we’ll be celebrating with the launch of the Brooklyn International Performance Art Festival (BIPAF), which, as you may expect, isn’t your typical art festival.

With 12 spaces, 24 days, and some 200 participants, BIPAF is more of a mass performance, where everyone from performance artists and curators to critics and gallery directors is working together to perform a festival. It’s an event comprised of hundreds of events; it’s grassroots and communal;  it’s an informal institution offering institutional critique.


BIPAF launches this Thursday, July 4, with an opening party at JACK in Clinton Hill. The event from 6 to 10 pm will feature performers Ryan Eggensperger and Martha Wilson as Barbara Bush, plus a grill, so bring some food! Hyperallergic is proud to be the exclusive media partner for BIPAF.

The next day, the festival’s framing exhibition opens at Glasshouse in Williamsburg. Organizers Esther Neff, Chloë Bass, and Lital Dotan coordinated the show as a reflection of their thinking on some of BIPAF’s key structural elements, namely non-competitive scheduling, collective curation of the events and exhibitions, public organizing via a wiki and shared Google documents, and documentation of organizational sessions and meetings. The exhibition will include as many traces of the process as possible, and will highlight the ideas, work, and impact of all the festival participants.

BIPAF continues throughout the month of July at more venues around Brooklyn, including Grace Exhibition Space, The Invisible Dog Art Center, Goodbye Blue Monday, and Silent Barn. There will be ongoing series, among them Climate Change, which focuses on the changing climate of performance art in Brooklyn; Post-Dance, which refers to dance but isn’t quite it; and The Super Coda, an experimental cabaret featuring 12-hour-long performances. There will also be individual performances, by hundreds of artists such as Ann Liv Young, Niegel Smith, Jill McDermid, Marni Kotak, Rafael Sanchez, Rob Andrews and many others.

Performance art is social research, relational practice, and political assembly. Performance artists are not creating luxury objects; they are working to create alternative social situations, actualizing social gatherings and actions. BIPAF depends on its many individual participants to succeed, but no matter the results, it will be an explosion of rigorous, exceptional, rapturous performance art in Brooklyn over the month of July.

Hyperallergic will also be liveblogging many of the events throughout the month, so stay tuned for details.

The Brooklyn International Performance Festival will run from July 4 to July 28 at venues throughout Brooklyn. 

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

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