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New York’s Performa Goes Off the Walls


Iona Rozeal Brown’s Ana rogu, sentinel (After Yoshitoshi’s “Moon on the Southern Sea”), 2008. Courtesy the artist.

Of all the different types of contemporary art, performance art could very well be the scariest to the uninitiated. But neophytes need not fret—for years now, New York writer, art historian and general art-world powerhouse RoseLee Goldberg has been working to make the field infinitely more accessible. Performa, Goldberg’s citywide festival of performance art held every other year since 2005, embarked upon its fourth edition this month with a slew of art-star-studded programming running daily through November 23.

Highlights include Shirin Neshat’s OverRuled, opening Friday, November 11, at the Chelsea home of the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. It’s among the more timely—not to mention hotly anticipated—of this year’s offerings: The Iranian-born, New York–based artist will dramatize the plight of a fictional Arab poet on trial for speaking out against her regime. Also on our to-see list: Iona Rozeal Brown’s Battle of Yestermore, one of the artist’s Kabuki theater meets hip-hop culture paintings (such as the one pictured above) brought whimsically to life via music and dance. Unsurprisingly, James Franco is getting in on the action as well—he and video artist Laurel Nakadate have composed an homage of sorts to Tennessee Williams in which they will try to contact the long-late playwright from beyond the grave in front of a live audience. Prices and Performa locations vary; http://11.performa-arts.org.

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