Curating Performance

performance installation

opening, from Landing Field: Vito Acconci and Yve Laris Cohen, 2013 
Hessel Museum of Art and CCS Galleries at Bard College

Photo: Karl Rabe

This symposium convenes faculty from Performance Studies, Art, and Museum Studies, along with artists and professional curators, to discuss the practical and theoretical problems of curating performance. Given the widening place of performance in art institutions, this symposium seeks to articulate pedagogical approaches to this work.

Panelists include: niv Acosta, Bruce Altshuler, Jonathan Berger, Johanna Burton, Adrienne Edwards, Malik Gaines, Lia GangitanoAna Janevski, Joshua Lubin-LevyAndré Lepecki, Sam MillerMelissa Rachleff BurttValérie RousseauLumi Tan, Allen Weiss, Tara Aisha Willis




PERFORMERS' REQUIREMENTS: with niv Acosta, Jonathan Berger, Valérie Rousseau, and moderated by Tara Aisha Willis

What are the problems that artists who do performance and curators address together?


PERFORMANCE AND CURATORIAL PEDAGOGY: with Bruce Altshuler, Johanna Burton, Lia Gangitano, Sam Miller, and moderated by Malik Gaines

What are methods for teaching the curating of performance?




PERFORMING IN INSTITUTIONAL PLACES: with Joshua Lubin-Levy, Lumi Tan, and moderated by André Lepecki

What does the interdisciplinary study of performance bring to the disciplinary locations where performance is being presented?


PERFORMATIVE USES OF MATERIALS: with Adrienne Edwards, Ana Janevski, Melissa Rachleff Burtt, and moderated by Allen S. Weiss

How do theories of performance re-orient work on media, archives, and material-based practices?


RECEPTION in Performance Studies Lounge

niv Acosta is a choreographer and artist based in New York. His intersectional identities as transgender, queer, and black-dominican have continuously inspired his community based work. niv’s work has been seen at New York Live Arts, PS122, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Movement Research, 41 Cooper Gallery, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Human Resources LA, in the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial, among others, and has been featured in publications including Performance Journal, VICE, Brooklyn Magazine, Apogee Journal and more. niv has collaborated with artists Deborah Hay, André Singleton, Monstah Black, A.K. Burns, Andrea Geyer, Ralph Lemon, Ishmael Houston-Jones, and Larissa Velez-Jackson.

Bruce Altshuler is Director of the NYU Program in Museum Studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Science. He is the author of Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions that Made Art History, 1962-2002, Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions that Made Art History, 1863-1959, The Avant-Garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century and the monograph Isamu Noguchi, editor of Collecting the New: Museums and Contemporary Art, and co-editor of Isamu Noguchi: Essays and Conversations. Altshuler has written extensively and lectured internationally about exhibition history and curatorial issues, the history of museums, and modern and contemporary art. He has been Director of the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum and a member of the graduate faculty of the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, and has served on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Art Critics/United States Section.

Jonathan Berger’s work encompasses the fields of sculpture, installation, performance, archival and curatorial projects, conceptual art, design, relational aesthetics, and education. His projects often engage in an experimental and cross-disciplinary approach to the creation and presentation of exhibitions-- ranging from work that he physically produces or ask others to produce for him, to materials that he collects, seeks out, and re-contextualizes, or that are the product of conversations and exchanges with others. These exhibition projects often combine new and old, traditional and non-traditional, popular and obscure, static display and events, that which is widely acknowledged as art and that which is not. Recent exhibition projects include “On Creating Reality, by Andy Kaufman” (2013) presented at Maccarone, Inc. in conjunction with "Andy Kaufman's 99cent Tour," the first comprehensive screening series surveying Kaufman's performance work, presented at Participant Inc. In 2009 he organized the exhibition “Stuart Sherman: Nothing Up My Sleeve” at Participant, Inc., which was included in the 2009 PERFORMA Biennial. Past solo, collaborative, and curatorial projects have been presented at the Busan Biennial, Fleisher-Ollman Gallery, Vox Populi Gallery, Karma Gallery, Andreas Grimm Gallery, MOCA Los Angeles, The Hebel Theater, and Performance Space 122, amongst other venues. He is presently organizing the first solo museum exhibition of Bread and Puppet Theater founding director Peter Schumann, which will open the new wing of the Queens Museum of Art in October 2013. Berger is a recent recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and has completed residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony among others. Jonathan Berger received his MFA from New York University in 2006 and his BFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2002.

Johanna Burton is Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum. Prior to holding this position, she was the Director of The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College Masters program, and Associate Director and Senior Faculty Member at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program. Her writing has appeared in publications including Artforum, October, and Texte Zur Kunst.

Adrienne Edwards is visual arts curator-at-large at the Walker Art Center, a curator and head of programming at Performa, and a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. Her curatorial focus includes artists of the African diaspora and the global South. She has curated the exhibition “Blackness and Abstraction” at Pace Gallery, New York, as well as programs, projects, and performances with Edgar Arceneaux, Juliana Huxtable, Rashid Johnson, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, and Carrie Mae Weems, among other artists.

Malik Gaines is assistant professor of Performance Studies in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His forthcoming book, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left, traces a circulation of political ideas in performances of the 1960s and beyond. Gaines has performed and exhibited extensively with the group My Barbarian, whose work has been shown at MoMA, the New Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Kitchen, the Whitney Museum, Participant Inc., LACMA, the Hammer Museum, MOCA LA, and many others, and was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, two California Biennials, two Performa Biennials, the Montreal Biennial and the Baltic Triennial. Gaines has curated exhibitions and performance festivals for LAXART, The Hammer Museum, The City of Los Angeles, Vox Populi Philadelphia, and others. 

Ana Janevski is Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art, where she recently co-organized the performance series Words in the World. She was previously Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland, where she curated the large-scale exhibition As Soon As I Open My Eyes I See a Film, which dealt with the topic of Yugoslav experimental film and art of the 1960s and 70s, and edited a book of the same title. In 2010 Janevski co-curated the first extensive show about experimental film in Yugoslavia at the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana, This Is All Film! Experimental Film in Yugoslavia 1951–1991. She also co-curated, with Pierre Bal-Blanc, the performance exhibition The Living Currency.

André Lepecki is Associate Professor in Performance Studies at New York University. Editor of several anthologies on dance and performance theory including Of the Presence of the Body (Wesleyan Univ. Press 2004) and Dance (Whitechapel/MIT Press 2012). An independent performance curator, he has created projects for HKW-Berlin, MoMA-Warsaw, the Hayward Gallery, Haus der Künst-Munich, Sydney Biennial 2016, among other venues in the US, Brazil, and Europe. Author of Exhausting Dance: performance and the politics of movement (Routledge 2006, currently translated into 10 languages), and of Singularities: dance in the age of performance (Routledge 2016).

Joshua Lubin-Levy is a dramaturg, curator and doctoral candidate in the department of Performance Studies at New York University where his work centers on the artist, performer and filmmaker Jack Smith. His curatorial projects include Reexamine The Space (Abrons Arts Center, 2016), Subject To Capital (Abrons Arts Center, 2016), Fred Herko: A Crash Course (NYU, 2014); and Ephemera As Evidence (Visual AIDS and La MaMa Galleria, 2014). As a dramaturg, he has worked with a range of artists including Jen Rosenblit, Dean Moss, and Julie Tolentino, (among others). He recently co-edited a special issue of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, titled "Living Labor: Marxism and Performance Studies" (2017). His residencies include Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space (2015), AIRspace Curator-In-Resident at Abrons Arts Center (2015 - 16), and a multi-year collaboration with the Norwegian Theatre Academy (2012 – 2015). He is currently a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a Critical Studies participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program (2016 - 2017).

Sam Miller is the founder and director of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance (ICPP) at Wesleyan University. Previously he served as President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) where, from 2011 - 2016, he produced the River to River Festival. He has also served as President of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a ten year initiative to improve conditions for individual artists in the US. He has also served as President of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) where he founded the National Dance Project (NDP) and as President and Executive Director of the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival. Sam is a trustee of Danspace Project (NYC) and AMRITA (Phnom Penh) and sits on the Advisory Boards of the Creative Capital Initiative (CCI), Reggie Wilson's Fist &Heel, and ODC/SF. He is Senior Advisor to the Philadelphia Contemporary project and co-director of the CODA/21, a collaborative research project between choreographers and neuroscientists hosted by Kristy Edmunds at CAP UCLA. He has produced the "Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia" tour (2001) and the Eiko and Koma "Retrospective" (2009-2011) and has worked as a consultant for the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Pew Center for Culture and Heritage.

Melissa Rachleff Burtt is currently a Clinical Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Administration Program at NYU where she regularly collaborates with artists and visual art organizations as part of her courses. She began her career as the assistant curator at Exit Art and co-curated exhibitions on the intersection of design and visual art, art and underground comics, body art and performance, as well as exhibits on contemporary artists at mid-career. As a program officer at the New York State Council on the Arts from 1999-2007, Melissa was an advocate in supporting contemporary art projects done in collaboration with local communities. Melissa has written on the subject of art organizations for a variety of publications. Her essay, "Do It Yourself: A History of Alternatives" was published in Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces (MIT Press) in 2012. Melissa curated Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965 for NYU Grey Art Gallery and wrote/edited the accompanying catalogue, which is co-published by the Grey Art Gallery and Prestel.

Valérie Rousseau is Curator of Self-Taught Art and Art Brut at the American Folk Art Museum, New York. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the AAMC Award–winning When the Curtain Never Comes Down on performance art (2015), Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet (2015), and others about Eugen Gabritschevsky, William Van Genk, Ronald Lockett, Richard Greaves, Bill Traylor, Melvin Way, Carlo Zinelli, Native American effigies, and Brazilian ex-votos. The director of the Montreal-based organization the Société des arts indisciplinés, from 2001 to 2007, she is also the author of numerous essays, notably “Visionary Architectures” (The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 2013), “Revealing Art Brut” (Culture & Musées, 2010), and Vestiges de l’indiscipline (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007). Rousseau holds a PhD in art history and an MA in art theory (both from UQÀM, Montreal), as well as a MA in anthropology (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris).

Lumi Tan is curator at The Kitchen in New York, where she organizes exhibitions and produces performances with artists across disciplines and generations. Most recently, Tan has worked with Half Straddle, Sara Magenheimer, and Sondra Perry. Previously she co-curated From Minimalism into Algorithm (2016), a year-long performance and exhibition series, as well as projects with artists including Ed Atkins, Gretchen Bender, Glasser, George Lewis, Anicka Yi, and Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu. Prior to The Kitchen, Tan was guest curator at the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Nord Pas-de-Calais in France, director at Zach Feuer Gallery, and curatorial assistant at MoMA PS1. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Artforum, Frieze, The Exhibitionist, and numerous exhibition catalogues.

Allen S. Weiss is committed to both interdisciplinary research and experimental performance across the media. Among his theoretical works are The Aesthetics of Excess (SUNY); Phantasmic Radio (Duke); Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia (Wesleyan); Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime (SUNY); Varieties of Audio Mimesis: Musical Evocations of Landscape (Errant Bodies); and most recently Zen Landscapes: Perspectives on Japanese Gardens and Ceramics (Reaktion). He has also written two gastronomic autobiographies, Autobiographie dans un chou farci (Mercure de France) and Métaphysique de la miette (Argol). His creative work includes Theater of the Ears (a play for electronic marionette and taped voice based on the writings of Valère Novarina), which premiered at CalArts and ended its tour at the Avignon Off Festival; Danse Macabre (a marionette theater for the dolls of Michel Nedjar), which premiered as part of the Poupées exhibition that ASW curated at the Halle Saint Pierre in Paris, and subsequently showed at the In Transit festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin; and a novel, Le livre bouffon (Le Seuil). His radio productions include L’Indomptable (with Gregory Whitehead) for France Culture; the Hörspiel Glissando as well as Radio Gidayū (a soundscape of Kyoto), both for the Klangkunst program of Deutschlandradio Kultur; and Carmignano, an audio essay on wine for Radio Papesse in Florence. He is currently working on Poupées des ténèbres, a documentary film about the dolls of Michel Nedjar and the Holocaust.

Tara Aisha Willis is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. Currently Women & Performance’s performance reviews editor, she has served as TDR’s co-managing editor, and co-edited, with Thomas F. DeFrantz, an issue of The Black Scholar on black dance studies (2016).Additional writings appear in Movement Research Performance Journal, The Brooklyn Rail, and Magazin im August. As Movement Research’s Program Advisor, she coordinates diversity initiatives, including the Artists of Color Council, and programs their discursive Studies Project series. She is currently dancing in a collaboration between Will Rawls and Claudia Rankine, as well as in works by Ivy Baldwin, Kim Brandt, and Yanira Castro. She recently was dramaturg on an in-process collaboration between Ni’Ja Whitson and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Her choreography has been shown at Movement Research at Judson Church, BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Roulette, THROW, Dixon Place, The Painting Center, AUNTS, the CURRENT SESSIONS, and CPR. She was a 2009 Dance Theater Workshop Van Lier Fellow and a 2016 Chez Bushwick Artist in Residence.