Moving Parts

Performa 19 probes the Bauhaus’s legacies in performance and architecture

Art East On View
Samson Young, sketch for Performa 19 commission, 2019 (Courtesy of the artist and Performa)
Samson Young, sketch for Performa 19 commission, 2019 (Courtesy of the artist and Performa)

For its eighth iteration, the Performa Biennial (Performa 19) will be embodying the radical spirit of the Bauhaus, which celebrates its centennial this year, with performances across New York City. Investigating the confluence of artistic, technological, and political events that birthed the interdisciplinary school in its own day, Performa 19 reframes the 1923 exhibition Art and Technology; The New Unity to consider “what is the art school of the 21st century?”

Taking place over the course of three and a half weeks in November, the biennial will include commissions from global artists including Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ed Atkins, Nairy Baghramian, Tarik Kiswanson, Paul Pfeiffer, and Samson Young. There will also be partnerships with numerous other institutions in the collaborative, multidisciplinary spirit of the Bauhaus.



“One of Performa’s important roles is to provide critical historical background and context for today’s performances by visual artists,” explained RoseLee Goldberg, founding director and chief curator of Performa. And history, power, and architecture will be taken up by many of the artists. Baghramian, for example, will use dance and theater to investigate the role of the body and gender in architecture and domestic space, while Arunanondchai will create a musical that draws from the Thai tradition of Ghost Cinemas, outdoor movie screenings that began after the Vietnam War as a way for the living and dead to commune among one another.

In addition to these new commissions, legendary dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer and dance scholar Emily Coates will reconstruct Rainer’s 1965 piece Parts of Some Sextets from materials held at the Getty archives. While we often think of the Bauhaus as a school of architecture and design, Goldberg pointed out that the architecture department was itself slow to launch, yet “a theater department was there at the beginning. [It] took the form of a centralized workshop for exploring cross-disciplinary projects; the drawing department used it to examine movements of the body in space, visual artists and photographers to explore lighting design, and performers and designers to construe fabulous parties, such as the Metal Party.” Drawing upon the department and school’s inventive legacy, as well as engaging publications like The Bauhaus Stage, Performa 19 will exhibit how theater at the Bauhaus, and performance more broadly, bridge disciplines and connect bodies and spaces through time.

Performa 19 will run from November 1 to November 24, 2019, in New York City.

Related Stories