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Press ReleasesRadical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Groundbreaking Survey from 1960s to Present, Opens at the Walker Art Center on July 24 with Weekend of Performances and Events


MINNEAPOLIS, June 25 2014—The Walker Art Center is pleased to present the groundbreaking survey Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art on view July 24, 2014 through January 4, 2015 in the Target and Friedman galleries. Radical Presence chronicles the development of black performance in contemporary art beginning with Fluxus and Conceptual art in the 1960s and extending to the present. While this tradition has previously been contextualized from the perspective of theater and popular culture, its prevalence in visual art has gone largely unexamined until recently. Organized and first presented by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Radical Presence was co-presented in New York City by The Studio Museum in Harlem and New York University’s Grey Art Gallery. The final opportunity to view the exhibition will be at the Walker.

Radical Presence launches on July 24, a Target Free Thursday Night, with live performances at the Walker by contributing artists Senga Nengudi, Pope.L, and Jacolby Satterwhite. Performances continue on Saturday, July 26 with Maren Hassinger and Jamal Cyrus, in addition to a lively panel discussion hosted by organizing curator Valerie Cassel Oliver from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and contributing artists Adam Pendleton, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Xaviera Simmons that addresses the role of performance in their larger artistic practice.

A range of performances and events continue beyond the opening weekend and throughout the run of the exhibition. Beginning in September 2014, the Walker and The Bindery Projects will host Theaster Gates’ See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court(2012), while additional performances include Benjamin Patterson’s activation of Pond (1962), a performance lecture by Coco Fusco, and Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Devotion (2013).

Featuring more than 100 works by some 36 artists, Radical Presence includes video and photo documentation of performances, scores and installations, interactive works, and artworks created as a result of performance actions, presenting a rich and complex look at this important facet of contemporary art. “Radical Presence is a risk-taking exhibition that looks at the vitality of performance-based works by black artists from the United States and the Caribbean over several decades and across generations,” said Olga Viso, Executive Director of the Walker. “Engaging works where the performer is often the medium and subject, the exhibition is both provocative and captivating, as it addresses the limits of representation of the black body and elicits timely reflection on American culture and identity.” Artists include: Derrick Adams, Papo Colo, Coco Fusco, Theaster Gates, Ulysses S. Jenkins, Kalup Linzy, Jayson Musson aka Hennessy Youngman, Senga Nengudi, Lorraine O’Grady, Benjamin Patterson, Adam Pendleton, Pope.L, Jacolby Satterwhite, Dread Scott, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others.

“From seminal works by such highly influential artists as Coco Fusco, Lorraine O’Grady, Pope.L, and David Hammons to essential new voices like Theaster Gates, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Xaviera Simmons, Radical Presence brings together artists from across generations that push the boundaries of performance,” said Fionn Meade, the Walker’s Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms. “Ranging from intimate acts done solely for the camera to participatory installations and the tracing of overtly public gestures of celebration and resistance, the Walker is thrilled to welcome such a dynamic and far-ranging exploration.”

Works on view in Radical Presence include:

Hopes and Dreams: Gestures of Demonstration (2006-2007), a photographic series by Carrie Mae Weems

Pond (1962), a performance score conceived and activated by Benjamin Patterson

Documentation of Lorraine O’Grady’s performance Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire (1980- 1983)

Eating the Wall Street Journal (2000) by Pope.L, a sculpture and video installation

Say It Loud (2004) by Satch Hoyt, a participatory sculpture meant to be activated by gallery visitors

Documentation of Jamal Cyrus’ performance Texas Fried Tenor from the series Learning to Work the Saxophone (2012)

Theaster Gates’s See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court (2012), a classroom-like installation used throughout the course of the exhibition for everyday conversation and interaction

Untitled (Body Print) (1975) by David Hammons, and his iconic Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983)

The Last Trumpet (1995) by Terry Adkins, comprised of four brass musical instruments

EVENTS

Opening-Day Performances and Reception
Thursday, July 24, 6–9 pm FREE


Kick off the exhibition with a cocktail and experience a dynamic range of performances by contributing artists. The evening pays tribute to the late conceptual artist Terry Adkins, whose The Last Trumpet (1995)—a sound piece made of four 18-foot-long brass horns called Akrhaphones played by four local musicians—is presented at 6:30 pm. Senga Nengudi’s action-based, hanging sculpture, Untitled (RSVP) (2013), will be performed by longtime collaborator and artist Maren Hassinger. Through sets of choreographed actions, Hassinger stretches nylon stockings filled with sand into surreal and distended shapes, animating these sculptures which suggest shed skins and contours of the human body. Also part of the evening’s program are Pope.L’s Costume Made of Nothing (2012), a durational work that incorporates the performer’s body into a unique architectural element of the gallery, and Jacolby Satterwhite’s vogue-style activation of Orifice (2010–2012), which includes the artist in a full-body costume with iPod, iPad, and iTouch attachments.

Opening-Weekend Performances & Discussion
Saturday, July 26

Performance: Jamal Cyrus
Saturday, July 26, 1 pm FREE
Open Field


Join us on the Open Field for Jamal Cyrus’s Texas Fried Tenor (2012), a live performance in which the artist demonstrates how to bread and deep-fry a saxophone. He creates a new musical score and sound experience by amplifying the sound of grease in a fryer, and reciting a recipe/poem. Musically, Cyrus draws on avant-garde movements of the 1960s, including improvisational jazz techniques and Fluxus-like experiments.

Panel Discussion: Performance in Practice
Saturday, July 26, 2 pm FREE
Walker Cinema


Exhibition curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), will be joined by contributing artists Adam Pendleton, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Xaviera Simmons for a lively conversation about the role of performance in their larger artistic practices. The panel will be moderated by Fionn Meade, Walker Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms.

Performance: Maren Hassinger
Saturday, July 26, 4 pm FREE
Target and Friedman Galleries


Coming to visual arts via dance, Maren Hassinger will present Women’s Work (2006), a meditative performance in which she and others repetitively manipulate newspaper, alluding to sewing, knitting, and other forms traditionally labeled women’s work. Their communal gestures are amplified using microphones and speakers, transforming the simple actions into a cacophonous sound piece.

Continuing Events and Performances
Through January 2015

Theaster Gates: See, Sit, Sup, Sip, Sing: Holding Court
September – December 2014
Walker Art Center and The Bindery Projects
Free with gallery admission


Gallery visitors, tour groups, Walker staff, and passersby are invited to sit around the large classroom table, exchanging thoughts and ideas around a wide range of topics inspired by Radical Presence. The Walker is collaborating with The Bindery Projects to host a number of concurrent satellite programs at the St. Paul exhibition space.

Performance: Benjamin Patterson
Thursday, October 9, 7 pm FREE
Target and Friedman Galleries


Benjamin Patterson, a founding member of Fluxus, presents Pond (1962), an instruction-based participatory performance involving a floor grid, chance phrasings of sound, and wind-up toy frogs. Like many of his Fluxus peers, Patterson has complicated and enriched the relationship between audience and performer, creating situations that encourage direct engagement.

Performance: Coco Fusco
Thursday, November 6, 7 pm
Walker Cinema
$10 ($8 Walker members; $5 students)


Join artist Coco Fusco for her performance of Observations of Predation in Humans: A lecture by Dr. Zira, Animal Psychologist. Fusco will personify Dr. Zira—a chimpanzee psychologist who studies human behavior—from the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes, looking at economic violence from an evolutionary perspective.

Tickets will be available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600

Performance: Trenton Doyle Hancock
Thursday, December 11, 7 pm FREE
Target and Friedman Galleries


Trenton Doyle Hancock brings to life a mythical creature called the Mound— alternating between hymnal singing and Jell-O feedings in this performance that asks viewers to consider what it means to be devoted to an idea or vision.

CATALOGUE
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies the exhibition reflects the breadth and scope of the contributions of black artists to the field of performance art practice over fifty years. The publication includes an essay by exhibition curator Valerie Cassel Oliver, as well as contributions by Franklin Sirmans, Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Naomi Beckwith, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Yona Backer, Founding Partner and Executive Director, Third Streaming, New York; Tavia Nyong’o, Associate Professor of Performance Studies, New York University; and photographer/performance artist Clifford Owens. The catalogue also includes a chronology of black performance art since 1960; an exhibition checklist; color reproductions of featured works; a general bibliography; and artists’ biographies. ($39.95, Paperback, DAP)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art is organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. The exhibition is supported by generous grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the patrons, benefactors and donors to CAMH’s Major Exhibition Fund. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition is made possible by a grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc.

The Walker Art Center’s presentation is made possible by generous support from Angela and Tom Wicka.

Curator: Valerie Cassel Oliver, Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Walker coordinating curator: Fionn Meade, Senior Curator of Cross-Disciplinary Platforms.

Coco Fusco, still from a/k/a Mrs. George Gilbert, 2004

Courtesy Video Data Bank, Chicago

Jamal Cyrus, Texas Fried Tenor from the series Learning to Work the Saxophone, 2012

Performance at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, November 29, 2012

Photo: Max Fields

Senga Nengudi, RSVP, 1975-77

Maren Hassinger performance at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, November 17, 2012

Photo: Max Fields

Jacolby Satterwhite, Orifice, 2010

Jacolby Satterwhite performance at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, February 15, 2013

Photo: Max Fields

Dread Scott, I Am Not a Man, Performance Still (68), 2009

Photo: Jenny Polak

Lorraine O’Grady Untitled (Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire Leaves the New Museum), 1980-83