In 2012, performance artist Carola Dertnig started corresponding with choreographer Yvonne Rainer about researching and teaching in the performative fine arts. In the letters, Dertnig described her experience teaching “Performance Art” at the Academy of Arts in Vienna, a major public university established in Austria in the 17th Century.
Although performance was part of the curriculum, the university back then thought, “it was an elusive medium that didn’t require a fixed space.”¹ Consequently, instructors and their students constructed their own space by employing a “cardboard wall” —a portable space in which to perform and rehearse. With time, a fixed space was eventually established but the students desired to keep their “wall” as a physical reminder of performance as a medium that has historically refused easy categorization and excelled at pushing boundaries and establishing new forms of resistance.
Cardboard Walls is a special performance Series at Geza, our space for live events—performance, sound, spoken word, and expanded approaches to the moving image. Yearly, we invite a few performers to present their work in New York via a condensed monographic. To encourage a deeper understanding of the particular artist’s current work and development process, we also ask them to contextualize it with performances from along their carriers.
At a time when social distancing imposes restrictions on how our bodies move in the museum space, we propose that performance can replace regulations with choreographed movement, turning fear into a new sympathetic way of approaching others.
1. Performing the Sentence. Research and Teaching in Performative Fine Arts. Edited by Carola Dertnig and Felicitas Thun-Honenstein, Stenberg Press, 2014.
Mette Edvardsen is the first artist invited to perform as part of our Cardboard Walls Series.
Her work is situated within the performing arts field as a choreographer and performer. Although some of her works explore other media and formats, such as video, books and writing, her interest is always in their relationship to the performing arts as a practice and a situation. She started working as a dancer and performer in 1996 for several companies and projects and develops her own work since 2002. In her staged proposals, Edvardsen uses text as a structure, and reading and writing become the tools to move in space and interact with the audience. She works with language to subvert it, challenging the cultural connections and space-time conventions that influence our daily routines.