Aug 22–Oct 19, 2007

nomadic new york

Curator: André Lepecki

Performance Programme

In numerous and diverse micro-stagings, this new performance art series reveals another New York. It counters the cliché of Manhattan as one great frenzied demon with a vision of a metropolis of many small cities and interstitial spaces – all alive with their own currents, their own motifs, their own sensibilities. The elusive, the fragmentary and the transitory come to the fore in performance art that refuses spectacle but is inherently political in its formation of temporary collectives, appropriation of space to its own ends, and deceleration of time.

The 23 New York artists who contribute to "nomadic new york", either individually or in collectives, will bring wide-ranging approaches to their Berlin programme. In multimedia or unmediated, they will stage scripted and improvised pieces in the form of installations, recitations and dances in and around the House of World Cultures, in shopping centres, living rooms and galleries. Their art seeks out the viewer and lives from the moment. It makes the smallest space a public space and the public space a stage.

May I dance in your living room? asks Edisa Week as she explores the psychogeography of the city. The itinerant Reverend Billy takes his travelling Church of Stop Shopping Now into temples of consumption for open services. Koosil-ja lets chance decide which video images she dances to. For 24 hours running, blindfolded AIDS activist Julie Tolentino asks passers-by to dance with her in a tiny glass-walled ballroom. Matthew Seidman stages a piece driven by the notes of the impressions and thoughts of a New Yorker in Berlin. Chairs take on an active role in Vlatka Horvat's performance, securing – under the conscious or unconscious influence of the audience – the conditions for participating in social space. Assisted by nanotechnology, Ricardo Dominguez uses information about the olfactory stimuli of visitors to map economic activities.

Borrowing Deleuze's concept of littérature mineure, curator André Lepecki describes the selected works as "art in the mode of the lesser, the small." By this he means an art which rejects fixed definition and permanence, and allows one to understand "orienting in New York as a project of perpetual nomadism – the city as a territory that the artists, through their coming and going, are constantly reinventing, redefining and revitalising."

Performance art touches all genres, from dance to live installation, from poetry to agitprop. In New York more than anywhere else, it has evolved into an interactively staged crossing of the boundary between art and life. Spectators who open themselves to its images, thoughts, sounds, languages and actions as to an inner nomadic meandering will discover that these performance artists, with their humour and energy, tell a story that is common to us all – a story of life in Western cities today. Through this aesthetic narrative not just New York, but Berlin, too, is surveyed anew.

The participating artists are: Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Now, Edisa Weeks / Delirious Dance, Julie Tolentino, Koosil-ja / dance KUMIKO, Vlatka Horvat, Chase Granoff and Jon Moniaci, Matthew Seidman, Ricardo Dominguez and Diane Ludin, William Pope L.