There are a handful of cities within the U.S. that not only recognize performance art as a meaningful contribution to the contemporary art world but also financially sponsor its development. As noted in last weeks post with performance art curator and practitioner, Jill McDermid-Hokanson, there is limited funding for performance art. Limited, but not non-existent. This year The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston awarded 2 out of 4 James and Audrey Foster Prizes to current performance art practitioners - Vela Phelan and Sandrine Schaefer.
I have followed Vela Phelan's work for many years. His visually alluring performance rituals blend contemporary culture, technology and religious deities. Phelan has a bewildering ability to charge spaces and objects. This energy often lingers with viewers post-performance and further extends into the secular world.
I am pleased to share Vela Phelan's work for our next Artist Feature. The feature focuses on Phelan's exhibition and performance series "Obscurus Fidem" is a site-specific video altar dedicated to Jesús Malverde, a folk legend elevated to the rank of sainthood by Mexican narco-traffickers currently on view at ICA Boston. Thus far, Phelan has completed six of nine live actions entitled "Obscurus Novena" in honor of Jesús Malverde. Enjoy the interview and go see the exhibition! (On view thru August 9th.) - Quinn
Grace Exhibition Space Directors, Erik "Hoke" Hokanson and Jill McDermid-Hokanson | photo by Miao Jiaxin
Grace Exhibition Space launched the Great American Performance Art Festival (GAPAF) in February 2015. The festival runs thru June 2015 and is the long-term vision of Jill McDermid-Hokanson, (chief curator, director and co-founder of Grace Exhibition Space). Thus far the festival has offered performance workshops, lectures and of course- live performances from both local and international artists.
I was astonished to receive an invitation announcing live performances by seminal performance artists, Linda Mary Montano and Martha Wilson in conjunction with GAPAF. Both Montano and Wilson have presented performances around the world since the 1970's. They shared the roster with both seasoned and new performance art practitioners. As the evening grew closer, the artist roster grew. Ultimately, I witnessed nearly 5 hours of performance art from 9 performers! The following day Preach R. Sun led a street action as a continuation of the festival. Overall the programming was truly inspiring.
After a weekend of viewing historic performances, I was reminded of the incredible significance and influence of the curator. The Great American Performance Art Festival is a wonderful example of artists curating artists. It provides an audience and space for performance art- a medium that scarcely receives funding. Of course, GAPAF is not the only festival of its kind (thank goodness!). Rapid Pulse in Chicago is currently in its final days of an equally compelling group of performers and events.
For this week's post, Jill McDermid-Hokanson provides further insight into curating performance art in America. All too often the efforts of curators are overlooked, so I am pleased to share our conversation with you. Enjoy! -Quinn