Middlebury College Museum of Art

News & Events

Performance Art Takes Over the Museum

December 19, 2013

Performance Now
February 7—April 20, 2014

For immediate release: 12/19/13
For further information contact: Emmie Donadio, Chief Curator, at donadio@middlebury.edu or (802) 443-2240

Middlebury, VT—On Friday, February 7, the Middlebury College Museum of Art will open the exhibition Performance Now, a selection of works by artists who practice a variety of art making procedures featuring videos, objects, films, and installations that document ephemeral occurrences. RoseLee Goldberg, art historian and curator of the exhibit, showed in her groundbreaking book Performance Art: From Futurism To the Present (1979) that performance is central to the history of 20th century art. In 2005 she launched Performa 05, the first biennial of visual art performance, and predicted that performance would become “the medium of the 21st century.” Performance Now deftly demonstrates that this medium’s time has come.

Performance Now features a preponderance of new performance works created since the year 2000, a period that has witnessed an exponential growth in the field. Bringing together 22 of the most significant practitioners today, the exhibit surveys critical and experimental currents in performance internationally, featuring key Performa commissions, and works by Marina Abramović, Jérôme Bel, Spartacus Chetwynd, William Kentridge, and Clifford Owens, among others.

Together the works in the exhibition are an indication of the extent to which visual artists use performance as part of their creative process; how that process produces objects, installations, video, or photography; and how these mediums have been enlivened by the demands of recording performance in innovative ways. Exploring live performance, artists capture its ephemerality and transform it into new work that contains the power and content of the original.

With performance art departments being established in many major museums throughout the world, and performance recognized as one of the most significant artistic forms of the 20th century, this exhibition provides a window onto these important developments. There has been much reflection on the complexities of displaying, collecting, preserving, and explaining conceptual material that so profoundly shaped artistic developments in the final decades of the 20th century, yet, paradoxically, was ephemeral. At the same time, contemporary performance is activating museums, drawing new and young audiences to these institutions around the world.

In addition to installations in the museum’s Christian A. Johnson Gallery, there will be regular screenings of films on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in Room 232 of the Donald F. Axinn Center. Visit the museum’s Web site, museum.middlebury.edu, for a complete and up-to-date list of the Thursday night screenings.

RoseLee Goldberg will discuss the exhibition in a public lecture on Thursday, February 27 at 4:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Mahaney Center for the Arts.

Clifford Owens, whose work is among the more provocative pieces in the exhibition, will present a performance-based lecture that will engage the public in the lobby spaces of the MCA on Tuesday, March 4 at 7:00 p.m.

Performance Now will remain on view through Sunday, April 20.

logo for Independent Curators International
logo for Performa

Performance Now is a traveling exhibition produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and Performa, New York. The curator for the exhibition is RoseLee Goldberg, Artistic Director and founder of Performa. The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, by grants from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the ICI Board of Trustees; and donors to ICI's Access Fund. At Middlebury the exhibit is supported by funds from the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Foundation.


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The Middlebury College Museum of Art, located in the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Rte. 30 on the southern edge of campus, is free and open to the public Tues. through Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sat. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The museum is physically accessible. Parking is available in the Mahaney Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information and to confirm dates and times of scheduled events, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the museum’s website at museum.middlebury.edu.