100 Degrees Above Dada

Performa 17 announces first commissions and theme

This year's edition is all about Dada and Africa and includes performances by Yto Barrada, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu and Jason Moran, Zanele Muholi, Wangechi Mutu, and more ...

William Kentridge, I Am Not Me, the Horse Is Not Mine, a Performa Premiere, 2009. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy of Performa.

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Performa, the internationally acclaimed organization dedicated to live performance across disciplines, announces select commissions and the historical anchor for Performa 17.

Performa 17’s team of curators and producers will present commissions and projects around curatorial research themes focused on a cross cultural dialogue between Africa and the West, the legacy of Dada, and the intersection of architecture and performance, that represent timely opportunities to work with a diverse range of global contemporary artists.

The resulting commissions and scholarship examine immediate and critical concerns confronting our urban centers, the shifting political and cultural currents of our turbulent world today, and ultimately the role of the arts and of artists in supporting afflicted communities. This edition of the Biennial will focus on the sociopolitical context informing contemporary art today, and how best to engage audiences in significantly understanding and absorbing its aesthetics and intrinsic values. Additional commissions, projects and details will be announced in the coming months.

“Performa provides an extraordinary platform for showing the important role of art in society. Through live performance we touch people directly, change their minds, and introduce them viscerally to the complicated emotional and aesthetic expressions of artists responding to the world that we inhabit,” says RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Chief Curator. “For the past 18 months, we have examined how artists in several cities on the African continent—Johannesburg, Nairobi, Dakar—consider performance as an extension of their creativity in multiple disciplines—music, dance, film, image making—and how each artist takes us into distinct histories and sensibilities. Along with artists from Guadeloupe, New York to Paris, we are excited to announce the first commissions emerging from this extended engagement.”

Here is the list of the first round of commissioned artists for Performa 17:

Yto Barrada (France)
William Kentridge (South Africa)
Tarik Kiswanson (Sweden/Palestine)
Kemang Wa Lehulere (South Africa)
Julie Mehretu (Ethiopia) and Jason Moran (US)
Zanele Muholi (South Africa)
Wangechi Mutu (Kenya)
Kelly Nipper (US)
Jimmy Robert (Guadeloupe)
Tracey Rose (South Africa)

The title “100 Degrees Above Dada” is inspired by French Nouveau Réalisme critic Pierre Restany’s 1961 exhibition, 40° au-dessus de Dada (40 Degrees Above Dada), which aimed to reexamine Dada beyond its nihilistic origins, and reflect on its language and poetry amid a new Modern context.

In addition to the commissioned artists, Performa announced the launch of the Performa Commissioning Council to provide direct support for artists as they move through the creative development process of each new Performa commission. The Commissioning Council will work similarly to a museum acquisition committee, providing an exclusive group of patrons the opportunity to not only invest in a work of art but also gain intimate access to the artist and their creative process. Looking ahead to the upcoming Performa 17 Biennial in November, this initiative encourages a personal relationship with Performa’s curators and artists aligned with the organization’s key mission of commissioning new performance projects in visual arts.

Performa 17 will take place from 1st – 19th November, 2017, at locations throughout New York City.

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