Visual Arts

Performance Art Week Kicks Off at Emmanuel Gallery Tonight

The seventh annual Performance Art Week, spearheaded by Rian Kerrane, a sculptor who also teaches at the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado-Denver, kicks off tonight at Emmanuel Gallery. For this year's PAW, Kerrane is pulling both artists and the public into situations characterized by the immediacy of the medium. “Performance art can be a challenge, something to overcome,” Kerrane explains, while it “is also an expansion of expressive possibilities.”

Tonight’s opener, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m., features Sabine, an alum of past PAWs, who'll be performing 26 Hours of Sleep, a piece incorporating dance that features an original score by Cee Martinez. Also slated is a poetry reading by Sienna Brunett and the performance piece Sentence: Sentience. 
Tomorrow, PAW will feature student pieces from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. As Kerrane points out, performance art can push the boundaries of both audiences and her students, many of whom are new to the medium. Performance art forces them to “ask why they make art in the first place,” she notes. Performances can range in time from one minute to six-hour endurance workouts.

Thursday's programming, which runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., will close out with Mediatized, which combines voice, analog electronics and a data-driven audiovisual performance. “You have to see it live," Kerrane says of performance art, "but you also have to document it with film digital technology.”
Friday's programming begins at 10 a.m. with several short performances by Kerrane’s students that are inspired by Richard Serra’s Verb List (1967-'68). Serra, who was known as a sculptor and once said that “drawing is a verb,” made a list of 84 verbs and 24 potential contexts through which those verbs could unfold, creating a straightforward but fertile index of potential creative action. PAW's final piece is at 12:30 p.m.: Club Emmanuel, an interactive surprise offered by students of Matthew Jenkins, a professor at Metropolitan State University.

According to Kerrane, PAW's lineup offers a look at the rich history of performance art, which was launched at the beginning of the twentieth century by artists who were dadaists and futurists, staging interventions that blurred mediums and challenged artistic conventions.

By the '60s performance art came into its own, coinciding with “feminism not as an art movement, but as a cultural shift,” Kerrane notes. "We look to that as the root of performance art.” As this link to feminism implies, performance art can contain political possibility and energy.

Citing Marina Abramovic, perhaps performance art’s leading contemporary figure, Kerrane says that performance art's ability to forge new social, political and aesthetic experiences stems from its ability to counter the fact that “we never pause to gaze at each other in this fast-paced world. These moments are rare.”

But not at PAW. Visit Emmanuel Gallery's website for a complete listing of this week's programming.