Performance in Crisis

Performance in Crisis was a series of site-specific performative responses to the many crises in the global society from a particular view of the artists’ aesthetic. Often it is a presentation of an extreme action. These “performances with a purpose” were a radical and profound look at the art of performance / actions. Exit Art did this project to make space for the urgent matters of our culture in crisis.

The upcoming solo retrospective exhibition by Guatemalan performance artist Regina José Galindo was the inauguration of the Performance in Crisis program. These performances happened over three months at Exit Art, using Galindo’s performance work as a point of departure. The performances were documented with photography and video which became part of the exhibition both in the gallery and on the web, creating a shifting installation each week over the three months. What began as a solo exhibition became a collective expression of performance in crisis; the Galindo presentation merged with the works in Performance in Crisis and continued to evolve in the space until the program ended on December 19, 2009.

These performances / actions examined our cultural condition and responded urgently to the monumental challenges we faced, from health care reform to immigration laws, to the horror of war and the manipulation of banks, from the poisoning of the environment to the corruption in our government. Performance in Crisis confronted these issues, exposing them and encouraging further response.

Performance in Crisis was conceived and curated by Papo Colo with Assistant Curator Lauren Rosati.



First of all let me tell you that there is no reason to worry! 

In extraordinary times an extreme reaction is necessary

Art for Art’s sake is as false as every god that humans have invented.

Uncertain times are the space we live in and the moment for artists to take justice into their hands, by performing the extraordinary events that we are witnessing.

There is not art for art itself because in art there is always a reason and a purpose to represent something. We are in a living chaos, a crisis that is beyond the economic, environmental, racist, military and religious fanatics. We have a spiritual disaster…a catastrophe in our souls.
God is a missing person and the local administrators are corrupt.
The artist performance is what narrates these events and illuminates metaphors.
The amusement of art is replaced by actions of substance.

Heart and the ears are the first organs that humans build in the womb. Our first actions are to breath and hear. Language and life begins with sound of palpitations and the silence of hearing, the first auto performance.

So drama is within us, some like to express it in public and some don’t. It is the medium of expression that is available to everyone, a personal manifestation, rare and effective, because it is done by example, oriented to the idea of freedom of expression.

Artists that perform don’t need a specific skill to do it; actors, musician, dancers are mediums that require days of rehearsals in a precise space and years of practicing their skill. Performance artists are unusual humans without “artificial” skills but with an ability to combine the will and intelligence with a trance state to perform an action.

In this era of CRISIS, artists that perform are saying something that goes beyond the usual expectation, they are more than justified for extreme actions in a culture en route to transformation.