Art historian, author, critic and curator RoseLee Goldberg is the founder of Performa, described as the only biennial dedicated to commissioning, presenting and exploring new visual art performance across disciplines. Goldberg is also the author of Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present
(2011) and has worked as a curator at Kitchen in New York, where she presented works by Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk to name a few, while also curating the first solo exhibitions by Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman and David Salle. In this interview, which took place when Performa 13 ended on November 24, 2013 (it ran from November 1), Goldberg evaluates the biennial event and considers what the future holds not only for Performa but also for performance itself.
Can you talk a little bit about this year's Performa highlights?As in previous biennials, we had a broad range of work and the contrast made for some startling highlights — Rashid Johnson versus Ryan McNamara, one in the steamroom of a bathhouse, with a play that is gut-wrenching and about race relations in this country, the other playful, clever, entertaining and about the internet and the history of people dancing. At the other end of the spectrum, we had community building works by Polish artist Paweł Althamer, and works about communes by Raqs Media Collective from India; an illustrated lecture on the history of the fist-fight in Surrealism by Shana Lutker, and a surreal performance with opera singers on bicycles, and much more, by Tori Wrånes.
What were the most successful elements of this year's events, in your opinion?
Our booklet and our website. Everyone commented on the clarity of the hard-copy guide to the biennial, and the on-line calendar with background on projects and artists. With more than a hundred artists at over fifty venues, this was crucial. We had more visitors from abroad than ever, with curators, festival directors and artists from Korea, Norway, Poland, France, the UK, Germany and Australia, and our Hub was the busiest ever. The Performa Institute program drew hundreds of people every day to talks by artists