May 17th, 2013 Loudspeaker: A Symposium on The Voice

Presented by the Performa Institute

An Experimental Event on the voice in contemporary performance featuring artists and musicians Joan La Barbara, Jace Clayton, Florian Hecker, and Alex Waterman.

Friday, May 17, 2013
4:00 – 6:30 pm

The Cooper Union
Frederick P. Rose Auditorium
41 Cooper Square
New York City

Free admission with reservation,

New York, NY, April 18, 2013 – Performa is pleased to announce Loudspeaker: A Symposium for Extra-Normal Vocals, a concert-cum-symposium that considers the historic grounding of extended vocal technique as well as current developments within contemporary avant-garde performance. Pioneered by New York-based vocalists such as Joan La Barbara, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk, and Diamanda Galas, participants will demonstrate the range of sounds of which the voice is capable, from vocal trills and ululation (Joan La Barbara, Meredith Monk) to melisma (Whitney Houston and Beyoncé) and death growl (Napalm Death).  The various formats and approaches to the voice will be presented and demonstrated by pioneering vocalist Joan La Barbara; writer, musician and Performa 11 contributor Jace Clayton; Performa 13 commissioned artist Florian Hecker; contemporary vocalist Gelsey Bell; musician and composer Alex Waterman; and Performa 13 Curator Mark Beasley. The symposium will also feature key video works of vocal performance.

From infancy we are taught to modify and refine our vocal range. Extra Normal Vocals or Extended Vocal Technique, a method first used by Arnold Schoenberg in Pierrot Lunaire (1912) has been described as “the struggle to retain what was” and covers a range of performance practices that extend the sonic peculiarities of the human voice. Luciano Berio’s early composition “Sequenza III for female voice” (1965), a pivotal work for vocal experimentation, and Joan La Barbara’s influential LP Voice Is The Original Instrument paved the way for a current generation of performers who work with Auto-Tune and the note-extending vocal technique known as “melisma” (an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text), but most commonly heard in pop music.
“Voice is the original instrument,” stated La Barbara. For William S. Burroughs, it was a voracious virus passed from person to person through the passage of breath and the reading of text. It could also be described as the ultimate medium, the ur-form of communication, an unknowable material with fleeting presence. In recent years, the voice as form has been subject to new forms of construction, distribution, and dispersion. The original instrument is once again a focus for performers and curators alike.

Loudspeaker suggests the numerous ways in which the affects of the Modernist avant-garde have over time been adopted and adapted by pop form. One of the key themes of Performa 13 developed by Mark Beasley is the voice in performance. A series of vocal concerts, commissions, and related presentations will look at the myriad forms of the voice as communicative material. These projects continue Performa’s investigation of experimental and avant-garde music through numerous public concerts: Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners (curated by Luciano Cessa and Esa Nickle); A Fantastic World: A Select History of Experimental Music (curated by Mike Kelley, produced and co-curated by Mark Beasley), both Performa 09; and Fluxus and Otherwise (curated by Mark Beasley and Zach Layton), Performa 11.

In the first decade of 2000, several key publications have addressed the resurgent focus in visual arts performance upon the voice, specifically Steven Connor’s history of ventriloquism and the disembodied voice, Dumbstruck, (2001); Adriana Cavarero’s discussion of the embodied voice, For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, (2005); and Mladen Dolar’s Lacanian examination of the voice as object, A Voice and Nothing More (2006). In some regard they all reinstate a conversation that has been deferred since the sixties, as has Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of the phonological voice in Of Grammatology (1967).  Derrida looked to redress the Western philosophical tradition’s emphasis on voice and speech above writing. His forceful and key argument against phonocentrism resulted in the positioning of the written word as not servant to speech but its equal. In many of his early writings, Derrida led the attack on logo and phonocentrism, and Rousseau’s suggestion of the authenticity of the voice, revealing instead its mediated and constructed-over-time nature. Dolar, Connor, and Cavarero all look to rescue the voice through the suggestion of its materiality, of its presence as form—as did Lawrence Weiner with regard to the written word—opening new discourse with regard to the voice. It has taken until now for the pendulum to swing back toward the voice as relevant form—it has done so not simply through the social impetus of the voice in art but rather the position of voice as form as present as steel, clay, paint, or bronze, aided by new forms of construction, distribution, and dispersion.

There have been several key exhibitions in recent years that examine the role and status of the voice and speech within visual arts performance. Examples include Hey Hey Glossolalia: exhibiting the voice, Creative Time, New York, curated by Mark Beasley, (2008); Oral Culture performance program, Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels (2008–2009); Talk Show, ICA, London, curated by Will Holder, Richard Burkett, and Jennifer Thatcher (2009); A Spoken Word Exhibition, the Baltic, Newcastle, curated by Mathieu Copeland (2009); The Voice is a Language, Tramway, Glasgow, curated by Isla Leaver Yap (2010); and The Queer Voice, ICA, University of Pennsylvania, curated by Ingrid Schaffner (2010).

Loudspeaker: A Symposium for Extra-Normal Vocals, organized by Performa Curator Mark Beasley, is a result of the practice-led Fine Art Ph.D. program at Reading University, UK; further text will appear in the forthcoming publication on The Voice in Performance.

Performa 13 Dates: November 1-24, 2013

Performa announces the dates for its landmark fifth biennial in New York City
Performa 13 will take place from Friday, November 1st through Sunday, November 24th. The 24-day program of more than 100 separate events presented at over 40 venues across the city will be announced over the coming months through video press releases, behind the scenes studio visits with Performa 13 artists, interviews with the more than 30 curators responsible for selecting and working with artists from around the world, and sneak previews from cities as far a field as Johannesburg, Delhi, Shanghai, Oslo, Warsaw and Singapore.

Get Ready for the Marvelous
Our historical "anchor" this year is Surrealism, and programming will reflect more than eighteen months of curatorial research and investigation on this topic. Performa 13 will address the legacy of Surrealism with such key inputs in modern and contemporary art as the liberation of the psyche, poetry, "the marvelous," and artists’ engagement with politics.

Central to the biennial will be the crucial role artists play to envision new kinds of citizenship for the twenty-first century by nurturing and championing new ways and desires to live together, wherever they may be. Idiosyncratic uses of the voice by performers will also be explored during the biennial; the disembodied voice, the voice as instrument of desire and menace, sound and song, and as a platform for the language of persuasion, coercion, seduction, and violence.

New Partnerships
Presented in partnership with the Biennial Consortium of organizations and institutions from across the city, Performa 13 provides the most diverse overview of live performance and contemporary culture in a full-to-bursting three-week schedule. Commissioning over half of the Performa 13 program, the Biennial Consortium is made up of the most exciting organizations and curators in New York who have joined forces to present exceptional curatorial programs across the city.

Pavilion Without Walls
New to the organizational structure of the biennial this year will be Pavilions Without Walls, our international initiative that in its inaugural year will be led by Norway and Poland.  Both countries have been closely involved with the planning of the biennial to integrate programming that builds substantial trans-Atlantic connections between cultural producers and artists across disciplines through the commissioning, presentation, and research of live performance, both in their countries and beyond.

Performa Institute
A year-round think tank that includes public programs, conferences, and publications, the Performa Institute will provide the research and educational component of the biennial with more than 30 artist- and curator-led classes, as well as several symposia that traverse biennial themes. During the biennial and throughout 2014, the Institute will present a special platform on the idea of “art schools of the twenty-first century” which explores the creative, political, economic, humanist, and ethical issues related to the education of artists of our time.

Come for a few days or stay for three weeks. Our Fellowship and Internship programs made up of international post-graduates and curators, as well as our graduate Performa Intensive at the Steinhardt School at New York University, will provide guidance for Performa 13 visitors.  November 2013 is the time to be in New York – please join us.

Tickets for Performa 13 events will be available starting September 1st.

Planning for Performa 13 has been supported by grants from the Lambent Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, Toby Devan Lewis, The Potter Charitable Trust, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. International support is provided by The Office of Contemporary Art, The Royal Norwegian Consulate, The Adam Mickiewicz Institute, and The Polish Institute.  Organizational support is provided by the Performa Board of Directors, The Performa Producers Circle, Curators Circle, and Visionaries, as well as the many generous artists who donate their time, creative energy and artwork in support of Performa.

About Performa Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading international organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live visual art performance in the history of the twentieth century and to generating new directions for the twenty-first century, engaging artists and audiences through experimentation, innovation and collaboration. Performa’s unique commissioning, touring, and year-round education programs, involving all disciplines, forge a new course for contemporary art and culture and culminate in the Performa biennial every other November.

RoseLee Goldberg at Experienz April 20th, 2013

On Saturday, April 20th at 3:30pm, Performa’s Founding Director and Curator, RoseLee Goldberg, will deliver the keynote address at the panel discussion organized by Experienz at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre in Brussels, held concurrently with the Brussels Art Fair.

Now in its second edition, Experienz is an experimental, thought-provoking, and innovative four-day program that includes performances, choreographed actions, talks, lecture-performances, concerts, and workshops.

RoseLee Goldberg will present Performa and trace the history of the biennial, created in 2004, showing how it has shaped the way we think about performance now, causing an explosive interest in performance throughout institutions worldwide. This will also be an exciting opportunity to get a sneak peek at the Performa 13 program.

Brussels friends—please join on Saturday, April 20th at 3:30pm at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre!

More information is available at


Ragnar Kjartansson Wins Performa 11 Malcolm McLaren Award

Mr. Kjartansson won for his 12-hour work “Bliss,” which was performed without a break at the Abrons ArtCenter on the Lower East Side from noon until midnight on Saturday. Commissioned by Performa 11, the piece involved repeated performances of the denouement of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” the moment when the count gets down on one knee and asks his wife for forgiveness, which she grants in an aria. Kristjan Johannson, an Icelandic tenor, played the count, with members of his master class in the other roles.

Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote, “it seems possible that as ‘Bliss’ continues to unravel, it will expose human kindness as much as human imperfection, and that the key element extended into real time and space by Mr. Kjartansson and his collaborators will be the act of forgiveness conveyed by, but also implicit within, the countess’s few, achingly affecting notes.”

To read the full article, click here.

Performa 11 Roundup on Art in America

"With [Guy] Maddin and [Robert] Ashley, Performa revived legends. But throughout the run, the festival also staged strong contemporary work, such as Liz Magic Laser's I Feel Your Pain, Gerard Byrne's In Repertory and Simon Fujiwara's The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

To read the full article, click here.

Art in America Reviews Liz Magic Laser

"Up may be down, and down up, but in her clever performance Laser devised a way through all the blather."

To read the full article, click here.

33 Fragments of Russian Performance Critic’s Pick in Artforum

"Given its resolutely institutional setting, it is unsurprising that the exhibition should read like so many variations on the theme of rebelliousness."

To read the full article, click here.

Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler in New York Times

"It is unexpectedly dazzling, as, in a different way, is the realization that all this human effort we’ve just witnessed is for nature’s benefit." 

To read the full article, click here.

Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion, Boris Charmatz and Eleanor Bauer reviewed in the New York Times

"People Who Mistook Life for a Museum, and Vice Versa" - New York Times
"Ms. Bauer channels everything from Karen Finley to “Swan Lake,” morphing with live-wire intensity from giant teddy bear to rebellious little girl to chameleon chanteuse."

Click here to read the full article.

Performa Playbill: Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler in Art in America

Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler's SEVEN in Art in America
"During the first preview performance on Thursday, most spectators sat respectfully still, but in later iterations, people moved around, as is encouraged, and struck up quiet conversations."

Click here to read the full article.

Tarek Atoui in the New Yorker’s “Culture Desk” Section

"TAREK ATOUI: VISITING TARAB" profile in the New Yorker
" wasn’t until Atoui received an invitation to participate in this year’s Performa biennial, in New York, that he immersed himself in his own musical heritage.

Click here to read the full article. 

Elmgreen & Dragset Profile in New York Times

"Similarity to Real People Is Completely Intended"

Elmgreen & Dragset profile preview in the New York Times by Randy Kennedy. 

Click here to read the full article.

A Pre-Performa 11 Halloween Bash!



at Santos Party House

100 Lafayette Street

Friday, October 28th at 9 pm

FREE before 10 pm, $10 from 10-midnight, and $15 after midnight

In celebration of Performa 11, Spencer's Gifs presents a night of music, performance, and dance... Halloween Style!

Featuring, but not limited to:

*Unveiling of a new site-specific installation by world-renowned Swiss artist URS FISCHER*


*New performances by YEMENWED, featuring a gigantic talking ice block and a new dance piece choregraphed and performed by MEGHA BURNBAS*

*FRANK HAINES aka Francis Heinzfeller: a German, S&M, drugged-out clown act*

*DJ sets by Changes with Wolves and John Holland*

*Costume contest parade - winner receives the DENNIS OPPENHEIM HALLOWEEN COSTUME AWARD*

*Interactive Shadow Dancing with props by Hanna Sandin*

*Bathroom performances by XAVIER CHA*

*Spencer's Master Class, an ongoing live art installation*



New York Times Preview of Performa 11 Program

New York Times Previews Performa 11's Program and Selects Highlights
"Live performance will be erupting, and possibly disrupting, New York for three weeks starting Nov. 1..."

Click here to read the full article.

Artinfo Announces the Release of Performa 11 Calendar

Artinfo Selects Performa 11 Highlights and Announces the Calendar Release
"The well-loved performance biennial has released its full — and massive — schedule of events."

Click here to read the full article.

Performa 11 Website in New York Observer

New York Observer Highlights Performa 11 Website
"The Observer has been looking forward to Performa 11 for quite some time and profiled its founder, the performance art scholar and curator RoseLee Goldberg, in our Fall Arts Preview. The almost unbelievably epic calendar is available at Performa’s website."

Click here to read the full article.

Elmgreen & Dragset in T Magazine

New York Times' T Magazine
“The only works that are really interesting are the works that are more clever than yourself. If all of us would dare to be more ridiculous, we wouldn’t be so neurotic.”

Click here to read the full article.

Performa 11 Sneak Peek on Artnet


“Impress me, please, without taking your clothes off,” pleaded RoseLee Goldberg to performance artists during yesterday’s press conference announcing commissions for Performa 11 the upcoming biennial in New York, Nov. 1-21, 2011.

Click here to read the full article.

Commission artist Ragnar Kjartansson Preview in New York Observer

New York Observer

Ragnar Kjartansson Puts The Marriage of Figaro on a Loop for 2011 Performa Biennial

“RoseLee said to me, ‘Do your fantasy darling!’” Mr. Kjartansson told The Observer.  Someone comes into a parlor and says, ‘I don’t love you anymore!’ and then someone says, ‘Ok let’s try it again.’ So this is going to be a performance about the same moment, repeated.”

Click here to read the full article.

Paper Magazine Preview of Performa 11

Paper Magazine

"Getting Pumped for Performa! We're glad to see the program this year includes a two-night event called Brew Pub showcasing home brewers "where the beer itself will be presented as art."

Click here to read the full article.

RoseLee Goldberg Profiled in New York Observer

New York Observer Profiles RoseLee Goldberg and Gives a Sneak Peek of Performa 11
"Repeat Performance: The Redoubtable RoseLee Goldberg’s Performa Festival is Back and Bigger Than Ever."

Click here to read the full article.

Artinfo Recaps Performa Press Conference


"This November, Performa 11 will hit New York City with an avalanche of performance art events put together by 100 artists, a team of 50 contributing curators, and, above all, Performa director and impresario RoseLee Goldberg."

Click here to read the full article.