Performa to Honor Curator Okwui Enwezor at Fall Gala

The gala will look to South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, and Morocco for inspiration.

Okwui Enwezor, director of the Haus der Kunst, on March 6, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Courtesy of Joerg Koch/Getty Images.
Okwui Enwezor, director of the Haus der Kunst, on March 6, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Courtesy of Joerg Koch/Getty Images.

On November 1, Performa will host its fall gala, honoring curator, museum director, and writer Okwui Enwezor, who notably curated Documenta 11 in 2002 and the 56th Venice Biennial in 2015. Titled “Beloved Country,” the evening will pay tribute to the history of performance and the visual art of South Africa, where Performa director and chief curator RoseLee Goldberg was born.

“We are delighted to celebrate Okwui Enwezor and his contributions in bringing South African artists to the international forefront,” said Goldberg in a statement. “Having grown up in South Africa, I know that the diversity of the country and conversion of so many voices and movements had a profound impact on me and I think subconsciously served as the earliest impetus behind the multi-disciplinary nature of Performa.”

In 1996, Enwezor brought the work of 30 African photographers to New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for “In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present.” The following year, he headed the second edition of the Johannesburg Biennial. In 2013, Enwezor curated “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid” at the International Center for Photography in New York.

“I am pleased the evening is connected to South Africa, a country that means so much to me and which I hold very dear,” said Enwezor in a statement.

PERFORMA 15 Opening Night and Gala | Featuring PERFORMA BIENNIAL Commission Fortuna Desperata by Francesco Vezzoli and David Hallberg. Courtesy of BFA.

PERFORMA 15 Opening Night and Gala, featuring Fortuna Desperata by Francesco Vezzoli and David Hallberg. Courtesy of BFA.

The gala’s “Beloved Country” theme sets the stage for the upcoming Performa 17, which will look to South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, and Morocco for inspiration. In preparation for the 2017 edition, the performing arts biennial will launch a curatorial investigation and research program focused on those countries.

Richard Chang, Wendy Fisher, Rashid Johnson, Toby Devan Lewis, Shirin Neshat, and Cindy Sherman will co-chair the gala, and South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga will perform a new piece as part of the evening’s entertainment.

“This year’s gala…will be just the tip of the iceberg explored by Performa 17, which will delve into other radical visual and performance cultures throughout the continent,” added Goldberg.


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