Performa Biennial

AGF, credit: Aino Väänänen (2021)

About Performa

Founded by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Our mission is four–fold: to award and produce Performa Commissions that result in new live performances by exceptional American and international contemporary artists; to present the three-week international Performa Biennial of live performance featuring these new commissions at venues across New York City every other year; to offer public education programs, exhibitions and produce print publications through the Performa Institute that illuminate the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century culture; and to disseminate performance related content, context and commentary through our archives and digital content channels that reach global audiences.

Performa 2023 Biennial

Since its founding, Performa has transformed the intersection of contemporary art and the performing arts with its visionary biennial and unique commissioning process, presenting over 800 artists at 200 plus venues across New York, consistently engaging with the city to offer audiences unparalleled and unforgettable experiences. While the Performa 2021 Biennial presented ambitious commissions in outdoor spaces in response to the pandemic, this year’s Biennial will return to its original construct showcasing new commissions by some of the most exciting emerging and established visual artists working today in a variety of spaces across New York City over three weeks. It will also feature events and talks at the Performa Hub as part of the Performa Institute, as well as the return of Performa’s Pavilions Without Walls program.

Performa Team

RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director and Chief Curator of Performa, is an art historian, critic, and curator whose book Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present, first published in 1979, pioneered the study of performance art. Her recent book published by Thames & Hudson in 2018, Performance Now: Live Art in the Twenty-First Century, is a major survey that charts the development of live art around the globe. Goldberg’s many awards include Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, Yoko Ono’s Courage Award for the Arts, and the Agnes Gund Curatorial Award from ICI. Goldberg has taught at NYU Steinhardt since 1987. In 2017, she became Curator at Large for the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2018, she was awarded Honorary Advisor to the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan, from 2018 through 2020.

Esa Vincenty Nickle, Managing Director and Executive Producer, joined Performa in May 2005 and has been an integral part of the development and management of the organization. Esa serves as the producer of the Biennial and oversees all Performa commissions, international partnerships and special events. Her expertise was pivotal to the launch of Performa and to the international “Pavilions Without Walls” program. She continues to manage the organization on a day-to-day be involved with all strategic development and planning while organizing programs around food and music. Originally from Chicago, Esa attended Indiana University and City University in London. Prior to Performa she worked for the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Greenwhich & Docklands International Festival in London, Works of Art for Public Spaces, and White Box where she produced exhibitions with Conrad Atkinson, Dennis Oppenheim, Javier Tellez, Bill Anastasi, and Tim Rollins K.O.S. amongst many others.

Job Piston joined Performa in 2012 and has performed various roles for the organization including Special Projects Manager, before taking on his current role as Curator At Large of the Finnish Pavilion. He launched the first Performa Social Commission with Tania Brugera in 2015. He was curator of major commissions and projects with Barbara Kruger, Zanele Muholi, Korakrit Arunanondchai with Alex Gvojic and boychild, Sara Cwynar, Kia LaBeija and Shikeith. Job has organized programs with Derrick Adams, Discwoman, David Gilbert, Richard Kennedy, Sigrid Lauren and Monica Mirabile, Tabita Rezaire, Jacolby Satterwhite and James Welling as well as presented About Time (2013), AFTERHOURS (2017), Artist Party (2018) and TIME SHARE (2020). He has organized artist collaborations, brand partnerships and digital content for the Performa Biennial.

He began his institutional career while at the Wattis Institute in San Francisco where he worked with Abraham Cruzvillegas, Aurelien Froment and the archive of Paul McCarthy on the publication Paul McCarthy's Low Life Slow Life published by Hate Cantz. He recently organized the video program Excelcior featuring science-fiction films by Asian diaspora artists for Art at a Time Like This and NOWNESS and special projects with Elmgreen & Dragset, Charlap Hyman & Herrero, Juliana Huxtable and Hayal Pozanti. Job received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of California Los Angeles as his Bachelors of Fine Art at the California College of the Arts.

Madeleine Seidel is a curator and writer based in Brooklyn and Atlanta. Prior to joining the Performa team as curatorial assistant in 2022, she previously worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Atlanta Contemporary, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts. Her writing on film, performance, and the art of the American South has been featured in publications such as Artforum, Frieze, i-D, The Brooklyn Rail, and others.

Nour Helou (b. Lebanon) is a writer and researcher curious about ways we relate to each other. She has a BA in Art History from the American University of Beirut and a MA in Performance Studies from New York University. Through engaging with archives, Helou has been following and illuminating transformations of beauty standards and gender norms in South-West Asia and North Africa (SWANA). As a film programmer, she has worked at Shasha Movies, an independent streaming service for SWANA cinema, which she helped launch in 2020. Nour was also part of the Noncitizen Film Collective in Sweden where she was a project manager. She has previously published writings through the Arab Image Foundation Lab, Glänta, and is represented in the Swedish Public Art Agency art collection. When the fruits are ripe, Helou is also a certified pastry maker.