In today's Village Voice James Hannaham reviews Performa 07, the Performance Art Biennial organized by RoseLee Goldberg. A "seamless, upscale, elegant performance—enjoyable, inoffensive, and not especially challenging" is how one of the works is described, with the implication that it was characteristic of the larger festival. Far from a damning critique, but not exactly what one once expects of Performance Art.
Performa was founded in 2005 by art historian Roselee Golberg, whose "Performance Art from Futurism to the Present", published in 1979 and still in print today, is considered a pioneering work in Performance Art criticism. She is also the author of a monograph on Laurie Anderson (which, unlike her previous title, was quickly remaindered). Her tastes are pretty conventional and one gets the impression (okay, I get the impression, I saw her speak here a few years ago) that her interest lies mostly in 70's and 80's performers. I'm imagining performance art of the bums-in-seats variety, with elaborate costumes and expensive set-design. However, the Biennial's stated mandate to commission new works and encourage visual artists who work in other media to present live works, is admirable. I also note that Toronto's Darren O'Donnell is featured in the festival, with a work that Hannaham singles out in his review.
The New York Times was more generous last week:
Image: Goldberg (right), pictured with Cindy Sherman