Shirin Neshat and Rashid Johnson Take High-Powered Roles at Performa

"I think it creates new energy for everybody," Performa's founder said.

Shirin Neshat and Rashid Johnson.Photo: Patrick McMullan.
Shirin Neshat and Rashid Johnson.
Photo: Patrick McMullan.

As New York’s Performa prepares for its upcoming 2017 edition, the performance art biennial is making some changes in its leadership, bringing on artist Shirin Neshat as the 13th member of the board of directors, and naming artist Rashid Johnson the non-profit’s vice chair.

“I think it creates new energy for everybody,” Performa founder and director RoseLee Goldberg told artnet News in a phone conversation. “I like this idea that the board is a brain trust. They think along with us, and to add two artists to that mix, well, I’m already feeling the difference.”

Johnson joined the organization’s board of directors back in 2014, following his commission for Performa 13. The 2013 project, titled Dutchman, was a re-imagining of the 1964 theatrical play of the same name, and it earned widespread attention and critical acclaim.

Goldberg told artnet News that Neshat’s appointment was natural given the artist’s long-term relationship with the organization. “With Shirin,” Goldberg said, “the first commission I ever did was in 2001. I recently asked her if she would join the board.”

Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg for the Performa announcement (2016).<br>Photo: Courtesy of Performa.

Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg for the Performa announcement (2016).
Photo: Courtesy of Performa.

Honorary chair Toby Devan Lewis, who Goldberg says has been with the organization from the beginning, has been appointed to board chair. Goldberg says that her “wisdom and experience is something extraordinary to have to refer to.”

Another big change includes the creation of the Performa advisory council, whose members are tasked with supporting the organization’s on-going programming. “We’ve always had a curatorial advisory board,” Goldberg said. “The board has all of these structural aspects to it.”

Goldberg told artnet News that these changes in leadership—namely their inclusion of artists—are intended to enrich the organization’s curatorial process moving forward.


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