Performance Matters Performa 17’s opening week, Metropolis M (review)


Performa 17 firmly anchors its curatorial theme in the legacy of Dada for its 2017 edition, with the radical art movement setting the foundations for performance art and the biennial founded more than a decade ago by curator and art historian RoseLee Goldberg. A biennial solely dedicated to live art practices provides a suitable context for considering the shifting and ever-changing positioning of the body in performance art. Performa has always made a case for the importance of performance art and considers the ways artists’ bodies become active sites and the central medium of their work. In using their bodies, artists position themselves both as subject and object, allowing for a critical process where the individual directly confronts the social, political and cultural, while rummaging around its seamy sides, thus bringing to light the secret and hidden things that might otherwise be overlooked or ignored. The body as a critical site is able to do so, because it is porous and challenges the materiality of inside/outside, while at the same time crossing the boundaries of private/public.