Pace Gallery Hires Hirshhorn Museum Curator Mark Beasley to Head Up Its New ‘Live’ Art Program in New York

Beasley comes from the Hirshhorn Museum to head up the gallery's new "Pace Live" program.

Mark Beasley. Photo ©2016 Darren Hall.

As Pace Gallery gears up for the opening of its massive new custom-built headquarters on New York’s West 25th Street in September, the blue-chip gallery announced that it has hired veteran performance art curator Mark Beasley as curatorial director of the new Pace Live program, which kicks off next month.

Beasley, who was formerly curator of media and performance art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, will oversee the new multi-disciplinary program that includes music, dance, film, performance, and conversation. Pace Live, which will occupy a 150-seat gallery on the seventh floor, aims to give artists, scholars, and critics the opportunity to experiment across a range of disciplines and find new ways to connect with the public.

“Performance and time-based art are now central to the art being made at this moment,” Pace president and CEO Marc Glimcher said in a statement. “As part of our strategy to bring the curatorial world into the decision-making process of how to run and program an art gallery, adding an extraordinary curator whose expertise is in this area is essential for us.”

Beasley previously held curatorial positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and the British Council, as well as Creative Time and Performa in New York. At the Hirshhorn he worked with contemporary artists such as Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon, Tino Sehgal, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Arthur Jafa, and Frances Stark—a high-profile program that caught the attention of Pace leaders at a critical time in the gallery’s evolution.

“Marc and Arne had been watching our program and had new ideas for their gallery,” Beasley told artnet News. “We really want to push how we work with performance and live art.”

It’s an art form that’s been on the rise in recent years because “it’s an unmediated encounter that isn’t experienced through a filter or a screen,” Beasley says. What was once “subcultural, now demands global attention.” Interest has been further piqued, he says, by celebrity attention from figures such as Jay Z, who collaborated with performance-art legend Marina Abramovic in 2013, and Kanye West, who has recently been giving interviews about how he wants to harness the sonic effects of gospel and evangelical music in his own work.

Beasley expects the role at Pace to be more akin to his position at Performa, where he programmed and commissioned a series of vocal concerts and artists projects, than the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. “It was very different than the Smithsonian in terms of the speed of projects and relationships working with artist,” he said. “Working with Pace is maybe closer to Performa in terms of the specific artists and timeline. It’s something I’m quite comfortable with.”

Architectural rendering of the south east façade of 540 West 25th Street, New York. Image courtesy of Bonetti /Kozerski Architecture

Architectural rendering of the south east façade of 540 West 25th Street, New York. Image courtesy of Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture.

Prior to the official debut of Pace Live, Beasley will work as a consulting curator for Pace’s first solo show of works by the late trailblazing performance artist Vito Acconci, opening in London on August 27. The show will look at the artist’s graphic activities from 1969 to 1973, as well as videos and archival materials that explore the relationship between subject and object and public space and body politics.

Beasley will be based in Pace’s new Chelsea building and will work closely with the gallery’s leadership team, led by Glimcher and senior director Andria Hickey.

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