15 April 2014

Panel Discussion: Who Can Write About Performance Art?

Ryan McNamara, MEƎM: A STORY BALLET ABOUT THE INTERNET, a Performa Commission for the Performa 13 biennial, 2013. Photograph © Paula Court.

Who Can Write About Performance Art?  Or, how many histories do you need to know to in order to write exciting criticism about art at the axis of dance and visual art, theater and performance, and every iteration in between?

Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:30-8:30 pm

Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Square South

New York City


Admission to this event is free, but reservations are required via eventbrite

Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.


Who Can Write About Performance Art?, Performa’s panel discussion investigating the role of art criticism at the axis of dance, visual art, theater, and performance, will take place Thursday, April 24 at New York City’s Judson Memorial Church.  Panelists Claire Bishop, RoseLee Goldberg, Adrian Heathfield, John Rockwell, Hrag Vartanian, and David Velasco will discuss the different approaches writers can use to convey the immediacy of multi-, inter-, and trans-disciplinary works. Each panelist’s perspective is informed by their diverse experiences in art criticism, which range from international monthly art magazines, daily newspapers and Web sites, to extensive, book-length scholarly publications.

 “The idea for Who Can Write About Performance Art? sprang from conversations with writers and artists about the challenges involved in covering performance. Critics are often specialized in one area, such as dance, but have limited background in visual arts, which might be the starting point of a particular dance composition. It’s an ongoing conversation and an exciting one, especially since we’re looking at increasing numbers of artists working in performance and many more museums presenting them,” commented RoseLee Goldberg, Performa’s Founding Director and Curator.


Claire Bishop: Art historian and critic based in the PhD Program in Art History at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. Her books include Radical Museology, or, What’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? (2013), Installation Art: A Critical History (2005) and Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (2012). She is a regular contributor to Artforum.

RoseLee Goldberg: Art historian, critic, and curator whose book Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (1979) pioneered the study of performance art, Goldberg is Founding Director and Curator of Performa. Former Director of the Royal College of Art Gallery in London and Curator at The Kitchen in New York, she has also authored Performance: Live Art Since 1960 (1998) and Laurie Anderson (2000).  She is a frequent contributor to Artforum and other publications. She has taught at New York University since 1987; in 2006 she was awarded the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Government.

Adrian Heathfield: Writer and curator working across the scenes of live art, performance and dance. Books include Live: Art and Performance( 2004), Out of Now: The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh (2008), and Perform, Repeat, Record (2012), Heathfield co-curated Live Culture (Tate Modern 2003), Performance Matters (2009-14), and numerous durational events in European cities over the last decade.  He is Marie Curie International Fellow at Columbia University, New York and Professor of Performance and Visual Culture at the University of Roehampton, London.

John Rockwell: Began his journalistic career at the Oakland Tribune and the Los Angeles Times; in 1972 he began writing at the New York Times on a wide range of topics that included classical and rock music critic, and dance. He also served as European cultural correspondent and editor of the Sunday Arts and Leisure section. Rockwell left the Times in 2006 to pursue independent projects, including editing of a forthcoming New York Times book about the 1960s. Books include Sinatra: An American Classic (1984), and All American Music: Composition in the Late 20th Century (1997) and with contributions to the New Grove Dictionary of Opera and the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll.

Hrag Vartanian: Co-founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning blog Hyperallergic. He has written for numerous publications about performance, online, and street art, and has been guest commentator on Al Jazeera, WNYC, KCRW, and other national and international media outlets. Vartanian has also organized numerous exhibitions, including #TheSocialGraph (2010), an early exploration of the evolving landscape of social media art.

David Velasco: Editor of artforum.com and a frequent contributor to the magazine. For the past five years his writing has frequently addressed issues concerning dance and other forms of performance, focusing artists like Sarah Michelson, Jérôme Bel, Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, Jamie Isenstein, and A. L. Steiner and A. K. Burns. 

Who Can Write About Performance Art is a presentation of Performa Institute and NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

Admission to this event is free, but reservations are required via eventbrite

Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Headquartered in New York, AICA-USA's membership comprises over 400 critics, curators, scholars, and art historians working throughout the United States.