Take a Sneak Peek Inside the Anticipated Performa Biennial

Find out what Francesco Vezzoli, Juliana Huxtable, and Oscar Murillo have in store.


With just over a month to go before Performa 15 kicks off with a hotly-anticipated, Renaissance-inspired performance by Francesco Vezzoli and ballet dancer David Hallberg, and following months of piecemeal announcements, the performing arts biennial has finally released the full list of participating artists.

Highlights of the 22-day event will include Ryan Gander’s ongoing performance involving an avatar that represents a “future version” of himself. “Ernest Hawker,” the bizarro-Gander portrayed by another man, will appear in and around the biennial, engaging with visitors and attempting to sell them his futuristic wares. “Ryan is interested in how you stage a performance and an action,” explained curator Mark Beasley at a press conference, also referencing Gander’s Documenta 13 performance I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorize, which featured gusts of air meant to guide visitors through a large exhibition space.

“This actor will become Ryan for the duration of the biennial. He will sidle up to people, engage them in conversation, and at some point, try to sell them [objects].” The items will be available for $20 each, and bargaining is allowed. The price is, of course, a steal given that Gander’s visual artworks can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Artist, writer, and downtown nightlife doyenne Juliana Huxtable, who was also featured in this year’s New Museum Triennial, has been commissioned by Performa along with the Museum of Modern Art to present a performance that “considers cyberspace as a twilight zone of precariousness and preservation, traversing closed servers, bounced URLs, and Google cache as human and digital characters,” according to the press release for the performance.

“We wanted her to have a platform where she can leverage her status as a nightlife impresario, but also as an artist,” said curator Adrienne Edwards. “She will have her downtown crew there with her, and it’s going to be a very exciting experience.” There Are Certain Facts That Cannot Be Disputed will take place on November 13 and 14.


Wyatt Kahn, who is best known for his ultra-minimalist, architectural canvases, will take on the role of puppet master with a tongue-in-cheek performance that will allow his paintings to spring to life at the hands (quite literally) of his friendly puppet pals—who eventually rise up against him.

Less is known about the specific plans of art star Oscar Murillo, who Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg says will “be giving us a very different kind of work than the kind of things we’re used to seeing from him.” The artist will take up temporary residence at the U.S. Customs House on Bowling Green, where his performance will pose questions about trade and globalization on a macroeconomic scale.

This year’s Pavilion Without Walls section—a riff on the various national pavilions that make up the Venice Biennale—will focus on Australia, where Goldberg and her team have sought artists that they feel are representative of what’s happening right now all the way across the world. Agatha Gothe-Snape, whose first question about visiting the United States was “can I meet Lawrence Weiner?” has constructed a choral performance and PowerPoint presentation dedicated to the conceptual art icon—or, more specifically, his hands and the way he uses them to gesticulate. Artist and activist Richard Bell will erect Tent Embassy, a structure that has been displayed at the Venice Biennale as well as on the lawns of Canberra’s Parliament House to raise awareness about Aboriginal issues.

Finally, in a star-studded turn, punk legend Richard Hell will present the annual Malcolm McLaren award to a single artist. Previous winners include Ryan McNamara and Ragnar Kjartansson, putting this year’s winner in strong company.


Participating artists:

Derrick Adams (b. 1970, Baltimore, Maryland)

Edgar Arceneaux (b. 1972, Los Angeles, California)

Nina Beier (b. 1975, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Jérôme Bel (b. 1964, Paris, France)

Richard Bell (b. 1953, Charleville, Queensland)

Chimurenga (f. 2002, South Africa)

Volmir Cordeiro (b.1987, Santa Catarina, Brazil)

Pauline Curnier Jardin (b. 1980, Pertuis, France)

Jonathas de Andrade (b. 1982, Maceió, Brazil)

Eleonora Fabião (b. 1968, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Brian Fuata (b. 1978, Wellington, New Zealand)

Simon Fujiwara (b. 1982, London, England)

Ryan Gander (b. 1976, London, England)

Agatha Gothe-Snape (b. 1980, Sydney, Australia)

David Hallberg (b. 1982, Rapid City, South Dakota)

Juliana Huxtable (b. 1987, Bryan-College Station, Texas)

Jesper Just (b. 1974, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Wyatt Kahn (b. 1983, New York)

Laura Lima (b. 1971, Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Zheng Mahler (Royce Ng and Daisy Bisenieks, b. 1983, f. 1993, Melbourne, Australia)

Oscar Murillo (b. 1986, La Paila, Colombia)

Christodoulos Panayiotou (b. 1978, Limassol, Cyprus)

Heather Phillipson (b. 1978, London, England)

Will Rawls (b. 1978, Boston, Massachusetts)

Robin Rhode (b. 1976, Cape Town)

Eve Sussman (b. 1961, London, England)

Francesco Vezzoli (b. 1971, Brescia, Italy)

Erika Vogt (b. 1973, Newark, New Jersey)

Ulla von Brandenburg (b. 1974, Karlsruhe, Germany)

Justene Williams (b. 1970, Sydney, Australia)

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics