El Lissitzky, "Beat the Whites with the Red wedge", a 1919 lithograph.
Along with presenting new work, Performa also provides a link to the past with historical and research themes focusing on performance history from the twentieth century, which acts as a point of departure for the work selected for the biennial program.
The research themes that form the background to Performa 11 include Language, Translation and Misinformation; The Voice; The Politics of Speech; and the Animation of Modern Sculpture. These research themes are intertwined with the historical references that are both the background to some artists' projects and also the frames for the discursive program around the Performa Institute – Russian Constructivism and Fluxus.
Both of these movements (in two very different historical moments) created a radical art language with a utopian outlook, and both also attempted to translate this language from out of the art laboratory and into everyday life.
The Performa Magazine, to be launched in early October, will be the site of short essays and other material exploring these themes from a range of perspectives and featuring a select group of arts writers as contributors.