Radical Presence

Given the nature of performance as an experiential medium, this exhibition features a variety of performance documentation in the form of photography and video.  In other instances, artists have performed directly for the camera, and thus the records of these events are both art and document.  The exhibition also includes objects used in performance or performance relics, installations and constructions that serve as the remains of these performances. In addition to the works on view here, live performances are scheduled throughout the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition will feature work by three generations of artists including Derrick Adams, Terry Adkins, Papo Colo, Jamal Cyrus, Jean-Ulrick Désert, Theaster Gates, Zachary Fabri, Sherman Fleming, Coco Fusco, Girl [Chitra Ganesh + Simone Leigh], David Hammons, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Lyle Ashton Harris, Maren Hassinger, Wayne Hodge, Satch Hoyt, Ulysses S. Jenkins, Shaun El C. Leonardo, Kalup Linzy, Dave McKenzie, Jayson Musson aka Hennessy Youngman, Senga Nengudi, Tameka Norris, Lorraine O’Grady, Clifford Owens, Benjamin Patterson, Adam Pendleton, Adrian Piper, Pope.L, Rammellzee, Sur Rodney (Sur), Jacolby Satterwhite, Dread Scott, Xaviera Simmons, Danny Tisdale, and Carrie Mae Weems.

The history of performance art as a manifestation of radical shifts in social thought and artistic practice is well documented in publications like Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979 by Paul Schimmel, Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body by Sally Banes, as well as Performance: Live Art Since 1960 (1998) by RoseLee Goldberg and her seminal book from 1979, Performance: Live Art 1909 to the Present. Performance art practices in Latin America were also eloquently documented in the 2008 exhibition Arte ≠ Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960-2000 at El Museo del Barrio, New York. Ironically, given the rich history of performance and its prevalence in black artistic practices since the 1960s, this tradition has largely gone unexamined save for a handful of publications including the exhibition catalogue Art as a Verb (1988) by Leslie King Hammond and Lowery Stokes Sims.

—Valerie Cassel Oliver, Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Houston, and curator of Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art.

Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art is on view until February 15, 2013 at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas

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