Monday, December 18, 2006

exit art goes silver with "renegades"

[collected digital composites: joseph beuys, yves klein, sean mellyn, bruce nauman, allessandra torres, david wojnarowicz, 2006]

exit art kicks off its 2007-2008 25th anniversary celebration with “renegades”—performance produced or presented at that institution over its duration. video, photographs, slides, ephemera, and other archival materials examine exit art’s seminal place as a home for performance art. just the first in a series of celebratory exhibitions, “renegades” highlights how exit art fosters presentation of performance art in this city.

“mastfor ii: good treatment for horses” (1987) pays tribute to the russian avant-garde in the first full recreation/adaptation of nikolai foregger’s constructivist dramatization. first performed in 1922, it combined the eccentric and risqué costume design talents of sergei eisenstein and sergei yutkevich with the satiric writing of vladimir mass. “endurance” (1995) examines and documents the work of approximately 30 visual and performance artists in the last century whose works tested the body’s physical, mental, and spiritual endurance. this cavalcade of images—including those of joseph beuys, chris burden, yves klein, bruce nauman, and yoko ono—exemplified acts of endurance done in real time.

“collective actions” (1997), curated by joseph backstein and elena elagina, features over 50 poster-sized black-and-white photos and wall texts from 1976-1990 that document the influential russian performance group collective actions. led by andrei monastyrsky, collective actions was at the forefront of contemporary conceptual and performance art in the soviet union. meanwhile, “body and the east” (2001) surveys body art actions performed in the former eastern bloc and soviet union from the sixties to 2001. few in that political “region” and even fewer in the west have experienced this work—much operated outside the boundaries of state-sanctioned art. zdenka badovinac of the moderna galerija ljubljana organized this exhibition, including the work of 80 artists from 14 countries—some of whom had suffered arrest, condemnation for hooliganism, and accusations of anti-social behavior. “body and the east” explored the concept of “otherness”: body art actions documented in this exhibition took place in private residences and marginal public spaces (e.g., alternative galleries, youth centers) and were vulnerable to sanction by state institutions and legal authorities in those former “people’s democracies.”

in “water project” (2006) ten artists explored private and public use of water in view of the global water crisis, which necessitates reconsideration of our personal relationship to this indispensable resource. performances took place on two separate evenings at exit art with each artist addressing this wrenching issue in a personal performance tied to the collective theatrical presentation.

simultaneous performances on eight stages in exit art’s 10th avenue and 36th street windows synthesized into “prayingproject” (2005). with “faith” imposing itself as critical issue in this century, artists in this installation responded to such questions as the religious right’s political influence, worldwide religious intolerance, connection to personal heritage via the jump-start of religion, the quest to achieve enlightenment, and widespread interest in zen practices. approaches to prayer by the 21 artists ranged from the intense, sublime, vulnerable, powerful, public, and private—with length going from 30 minutes to six hours.

crucial artwork from the united states, europe, and japan produced from 1930-1982 was examined in “illegal america” (1982). work in this historical show manipulates illegality as an art discourse, demonstrates the intellectual capacity of artists to “deal with the rules,” and introduces an anarchistic element within the democratic paradigm. the studio’s usually private and sacred realm came into public scrutiny with “la tradicion” (1996). ten painters in this exhibition transferred their studios to exit art for five weeks and painted during gallery hours—each artist engaged in personal work while contributing to the collective creation, an interactive installation exploring the artists’ behavior and creative process. sun worship, water, inertia, leisure time, and tourism came together to inform “sweat” (1996), which celebrated a chaotic utopian vision and organized contradictions.

exit art can proudly credential its innovation to the medium of performance art in offering this consequential and incisive portfolio in “renegades.”

through january 27, 2007 / exit art /475 tenth avenue
@ 36th street/ nyc 10018 / 212.966.7745 / tue-thur 10 am-
6pm / fri 10 am-8 pm / sat noon-8 pm / closed dec 23, 2006
through jan 1, 2007/free wireless internet access: laptops welcome / / suggested donation $5

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