Posted inArt

How to Curate Performance Art, and Other Problems

“Performance art is human poetry without words,” says Jill McDermid-Hokanson, co-founder and director of Grace Exhibition Space, the Brooklyn loft-turned-gallery devoted exclusively to showcasing visual performance art.

“Some people come to see the work and they don’t know what to expect — there’s a lot of chuckling, people get uncomfortable. They think that the artist in front of them is some sort of freaky weirdo and they’re not sure how to handle it.”

But the experience rarely ends there.

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Seeing Performance the Marina Abramović Way

“Your mind is not here,” she explains. Standing in the center of the room clad in a floor-length black dress, she is a sharp contrast to the stark white walls. The sweeping space feels anything but, packed as it is with onlookers — some seemingly starstruck, others bewildered — sitting closely together on the gallery floor. “We have to figure out how we can put your minds right here.”

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Noticeable, Easy, Fun, Affirming and Relational

All art is interactive — at least, in a sense. When you observe, consider, even dismiss a work, you have engaged with it on some level. Interactive art, however, is different — a notion made all the more evident by food coloring–stained hands, a bowl full of used shaving cream and a homemade contraption comprised of connected PVC pipes that looks like it belongs more at a high school science fair than in an art gallery. Enter Ben McKelahan.

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Can Performance Art be Collected…and Still Maintain its Original Message…?

By definition, performance art is transitory. It’s sometimes spontaneous. It’s often interactive. And it’s always an experience. It isn’t, however, a tangible object like, say, a painting, sculpture or even a string of musical chords on paper. And so, we’re left with a perplexing question: can performance art ever be bought? In other words, is it possible for a piece to be “owned” by anyone other than the artist once the performance is over? For some clarity, we turned to a group of performance artists, art festival and collective leaders, and curators …