PERFORMA EVENT 2007
by Brendan Wilcox for WM New York
As I made my way past the pretty girl with the guest list I was greeted to the left by a man hunched over a sewing machine. He was piecing together toga-like outfits, back drop screens for the light show that filled up the inside of Donna Karans huge event space, in the deep recesses of the West Village.
This was a biennial Performa event. It is a fundraiser thrown by RoseLee Goldberg, the organizer and ringleader of one of the most exciting art happenings in New York City.
Tonight was the White on White Party, hosting such performance artists as Michael Portnoy, a so called director of behavior, who screamed at the audience, yelling obscenities in our smiling faces. Fluxus performance artist Clifford Owens made an appearance. Plus, musician Elvis Perkins in Dearland ground out his Bob Dylan style poetic rock. He moaned country in the city, as his drummer beat on a school bands drum. Dj Spooky kept the in-betweens filled with his subliminal trip hop, while the violin of Bora Yoon, sometimes described as a musical architect, following every beat closely.
I stood for a minute sipping a glass of red wine, attempting to grasp the overwhelming magnitude of so much genius clumped into one room. Suddenly, hundreds of huge paper airplanes were simultaneously launched through the air by party guests. The light installation of Avi Adler reflected violently off everyone’s white clothing, creating a vast moving screen.
“As I made my way past the pretty girl with the guest list I was greeted to the left by a man hunched over a sewing machine.”
It has been almost two years since the first Performa and my initial introduction to some of the artists who are making New York an exciting place to be. I was late and missed a show, however, it didn’t matter since I got to meet Genesis Breyer P-Orrige, a fabulous man who is engaged in a project called Breyer P-Orrige (2003), with artist Lady Jay Breyer P-Orrige. They are merging identities completely, changing gender appearance and behaviors in a project that uses pandrogyne as its basis.
Performa is like a music festival where there are so many amazing bands playing on different stages it is hard to decide which one to choose. Artist Jesper Just held the main stage, performing at Donna Karan’s space in 2005’s Performa. Jesper’s “True Love Is Yet To Come” was a live movie and a masterpiece of male dreams. Images were played out with mirrors, and light projection which created a three dimensional stage set. At one moment there was a carousel, then a forest, then it rained furiously on stage. The man who danced sang familiar classic songs, while he floated in the middle of the stage, twilrling and writhing.
It was a blockbuster and one of the most visually stimulating live performances I have ever witnessed. All of this was made possible by Performa, it’s grants and production.
I cannot wait until next fall.