Projections Make Guests Part of the Art

The burgeoning performance art organization Performa integrated benefitgoers directly into the design scheme.

December 18, 2006, 12:00 AM EST

Gerrit Vooren and Brian Miller of Reels4Artists produced nine video projections for the evening, including a display of the Performa logo.

Performa’s White on White Party Stephan Weiss Studio Friday, 11.03.06, 7 PM to 12 AM
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Performa, the nonprofit that organizes a biennial, multivenue performance art presentation, intentionally created its benefit as a living work of art. The benefit, which raised funds for the 2007 biennial, took over the Stephan Weiss Studio, implementing interactive works, artists’ reenactments of experimental pieces, and music and sound performances—oh, yeah, and guests who served as human movie screens.

RoseLee Goldberg, Performa’s founder, director, and curator, oversaw the White on White Party, which took inspiration from the Bauhaus, the influential German school of art and design, where artists put on parties as works of art, integrating aspects of theater, music, architecture, dance, design, and literature. Goldberg collaborated with Avi Adler of Avidov Adler Studio on the look and feel of the event, and the organization’s general manager, Esa Nickle, oversaw production with Mike Skinner.

Goldberg and Adler devised the evening’s innovative concept: The space itself—and everything in it—would serve as a vehicle for a series of colorful films and projects. “We came up with the idea that it would be a white-on-white party,” Goldberg said, “and everyone became a screen in a sense.”

Guests were instructed to dress in white, as video projections (nine designs in all) from Reels4Artists would blanket attendees and integrate them into the art of the party. For guests who didn’t arrive in white, Performa put together a group called the Emergency Sewing Project to craft white clothes; the team of three sewers was intended as both a service and a performance piece. Materials for the Arts sourced white fabric, and designer Zac Posen donated more.

The program (designed by Little English Genius), printed on tabloid-sized newsprint, listed artists’ bios, the night’s lineup, thanks, and credits, but it also included instructions for various works including Benjamin Patterson’s 1960 “Paper Piece,” which was reenacted during the event by Clifford Owens and four other performers. The back of the program also featured Milan Knizak’s 1965 illustration of fold lines for a paper airplane; artist Zach Rockhill reconstructed the piece and guests could fold up the program and throw paper gliders around, which acted as another surface for the video projections.

Mark Mavrigian

Posted 12.18.06

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Photos: Courtesy of Performa: Paula Court (“Blank Sign Protest March,” Clifford Owens), Dan Morgan (dining tables, green letters projection, Carlos Soto, DJ Spooky with Bora Yoon), Gerrit Vooren (blue letters projection), Duff Wilson (arrows projection)

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