Christian Hostad's "Free Play"
5452 days ago by lyra

It was in line for an Oreo Blizzard that I heard the languid opening notes to an old Palace Brothers song and realized that something very strange was happening. The melancholy Will Oldham crooning in Mickey D’s?? Followed by Joni Mitchell blissfully reminding us that she was a free man in Paris? ?

This was indeed a real McDonalds, but it had been slightly altered for Christian Holstad’s “Free Play,” featuring a jukebox as self-portrait. Placed right near the busy cash registers, his jukebox sat in the flourescent glow of hamburger and coke lightboxes. Holstad’s jukebox of choice was the lovely old-fashioned kind, with real records and shiny buttons. He chose his favorite songs and invited visitors to select some and listen for free. The eclectic selections included Blood on the Wall’s “Walking Dead,” Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree,” Grace Jones’ “Warm Leatherette,” and Xmal Deutschland’s “Incubus Succubus II.”
In a brilliant move, cardstock displays about the project were on every table, designed to resemble a McDonald’s mini-menu. McDonald’s cooperated happily, distributing free coupons to people who came to see the project (hence, the oreo blizzard).

Holdstad describes his project as “Changing the Beat of the Heart of America.” Adding an unexpected syncopation into the numbing muzak of everyone’s favorite franchise, he is doing his part to stir up the monoculture. We get to choose only from the mix-tape of the artist’s top 100. His personal selection of rawk-all-night or cry-alone highs and lows made a unique self-portrait amongst the predictable yellow and red decor.
-Lyra Kilston


Post-xerox: the Tantamounter 24/7
5453 days ago by

The Viennese collective Gelatin (Ali Janka, Wolfgang Gantner, Tobias Urban, and Florian Reither) met in summer camp almost 30 years ago, and have sustained the boyish antics that summer camps spur. Well-known for their outrageous public projects (elevator shaft made of greased naked people, frozen urine sculpture) and clever juvenalia, their latest endeavor is “Tantamounter 24/7” running for seven days and seven nights (until November 23rd) at Leo Koenig Gallery. Gelatin took over the gallery by building a huge plywood box without windows or doors. Their sealed box is outfitted with a bathroom, chocolate, and what must be a mountain of art supplies. Supervised by a bankrupt psychiatrist, Gelatin has been living in the box for the duration of the show and working as a duplicator machine—visitors are invited to put an object, idea or smell into the machine and the artists will create a facsimile.
Near the gallery’s entrance, a yellow lightbulb turns on when they are ready to receive the next object, and a white lightbulb flashes when the duplicate is ready. Instructions scrawled on the wood instructed me to wait about 1/2 an hour for a turnaround. The gallery was crowded with people waiting their turn in line, or waiting for their object to be returned. When a duplicate was returned, everyone excitedly crowded around to see what those mysterious boys in the box came up with. Samples of their duplicates were on display along the gallery desk- odd object using candles, feathers, glue, paper scraps, collage, tin foil and fruit, to name just a few materials. While I waited my turn, a mother revealed that she put her daughter into the machine to be duplicated. The daughter, about 4 years old, was having so much fun hanging out and making things that she stayed inside for hours, periodically sending out paintings to her mother, along with notes from the artists assuring her that the girl was safe and enjoying herself immensely. A little while later, the white lightbulb lit and the little girl was crouching in the dumbwaiter, aglow from her adventure and exclaiming, “They gave me buttons!”

One man put in a box of hair-removal wax for men and received a copy of the box with the text hand-written and strips of masking tape inside. Someone else put in a mini disco ball and received a round object made from a halved pineapple and a halved orange.
My friends and I dug through our bags, seeing what we had that could be a true duplicator challenge. Unfortunately, it’s best to plan ahead, as all we had were a book, a pack of pepto bismol and a yellow glove. We dropped our objects into the entry port and pushed the buzzer. The glove came back paired with a latex glove painted yellow, the book came back with another book made from cut-up magazines, and the pepto bismol came back with a clever package of pink buttons sealed in plastic wrap, with the brand name scrawled in red ink. One woman put in a homemade doll and got back another homemade doll, sewn while she waited.
Tantamounting around the clock, the artists must have gotten delirious at some point, or at least taken naps. The artists also wrote notes to some people, and are gratefully accepting donations of “food and love.” Some visitors were obviously returning, intent on bringing more challenging objects. As I was leaving, someone wheeled in a small tree in a red wagon.
Gelatin revels in creating participatory events that create intense feelings, like anxiety, hilarity, embarrassment, transgression, or lust. “Tantamounter 24/7” encourages an exchange between audience and artist, but Gelatin’s usual feral boisterousness is cloistered in the mysterious box. We are left to excitedly anticipate what the next offering will be Gelatinized into. Putty? Porn? Cigarette butts? Art? Go see for yourself.
-Lyra Kilston


Situations in which people look out of place on their cell phones are becoming increasingly rare, or the Dead Jack Theater.
5461 days ago by

After the crowd filtered out of Art in General, and Sharon was last seen embroiled in a tight-knit political debate near the elevators, I walked through the rain over to 177 Mott Street, for the Dead Jack Theater. I knew this was some kind of event about Mary Jordon??s documentary on avant-glam filmmaker Jack Smith, but was rather surprised to be greeted in the candlelit freight elevator by a masked geisha who beckoned us in and pointed to a milkcrate of records. I gleaned that I was being asked to pick a record for the small record player in the elevator. Ah- elevator music. The selection was small and eclectic. I decided on an album of Hawaiian folk songs in order to counteract the rain outside. The geisha started the record and we ascended.
The elevator opened into a huge, dimly-lit loft. Rich fabrics hung from windows and candles flickered. The feeling was thickly orientalist, decadent, and sexy. Loops of Jack Smith??s films and Mary Jordan??s documentary were projected here and there, and languid, atmospheric sounds, from violins and drums to samples of birds chirping came from a group of musicians in the back. Nubile performers walked around the space as though in an opium haze, dressed in masks, scanty flowing clothing, and carrying peacock feathers.
They approached visitors and drew the feathers slowly across them, staring suggestively, before strolling off. Behind a sheer curtain was a lavish bed, and lounging was encouraged on the many plush chairs and rugs. Occasionally, two or more performers would do a kind of dance together that looked like a mating ritual of the extremely stoned??a sort of slow falling into each other rolling on the ground thing. During these moments, an audience would gather thinly around them, yet the whole environment encouraged participation, not just spectatorship. To quote from one of Jack Smith??s films, the most appropriate question was: To be or not to be normal?


In the near future last Wednesday
5461 days ago by

From November 1-9, Sharon Hayes staged nine separate actions in Manhattan. For each, she stood in a public place with a protest sign. The signs ranged from funny to puzzling to thought-provoking, reading things like ???NOTHING WILL BE AS IT WAS BEFORE??? and ???ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS??? (so- which is occurring when someone holds a sign with text on it?). Sharon invited friends to photograph her actions, resulting in a profusion of images that were shown at Art in General last Wednesday night, November 9th. The images show the artist standing amidst crowds of commuters in places like Times Square or Washington Square Park, her face fierce and earnest. The photographs were shown as slides, and about eight different slide machines projected on the walls in the gallery simultaneously (we were invited to operate the slide machines ourselves). The photographs showed crowds passing her by, some looking on curiously, others ignoring her in classic New York seen-it-all style. Sometimes, she was shown engaging in conversation with curious strangers.
One particularly memorable image shows her talking genially to an older man while holding a sign that reads I AM A MAN. Her signs utilize a kind of ambiguous dead-pan language similar to Jenny Holzer??s truisms, but there are different stakes at play ?? the words are held aloft by the artist herself, who stands in public and takes responsibility for their perplexing meanings. At Art in General, Sharon Hayes gave a short talk on her project, explaining that she was interested in the intersection of the protesting body, the text, the time, and the place.
I wondered how the impact of having her friendly documentarians nearby effected her actions ?? did it give her a sense of safety? Being constantly photographed certainly made her protests more like theater, a potent tactic used successfully by many political dissenters in the past. Titled “In the near future,” the signs also employ some ???potential??? language??coulds and mights, as in ???THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT MIGHT HAVE TO CALL IN THE NATIONAL GUARD TO PUT THIS REVOLT DOWN.??? The strange mixture of irony and hope in the idea that one person could be a threat illuminates the uncomfortable sense of futility felt by many who disagree with today??s politics. Furthermore, although her actions are in themselves compelling, her choice to have them documented so rigorously (dozens of shots were taken each hour) perhaps says more about how crucial framing and media dissemination are to the shelf-life of political action. – Lyra Kilston


Opening Night notes from ArtForum Diary
5466 days ago by Defne Ayas
Notes from Opening Night by Michael Wilson as published on www.artforum.com on *11.06.05 Feeling the Love

Curator and critic RoseLee Goldberg and her husband, furniture designer Dakota Jackson??who, along with Liz-n-Val, must be one of the New York art world’s most instantly recognizable couples??were front and center at the Thursday night launch of Perfoma 05, a startup performance art biennial (the first of its kind) that Goldberg conceived and directed.
Jesper Just and RoseLee Goldberg

The event was hosted by fashion designer Donna Karan at the Stephan Weiss Studio (named for her late husband, who made his sculptures there) in Manhattan’s West Village, and was centered on a new multimedia presentation by young Danish artist Jesper Just.

Weaving through a cluster of PR folk at the door and into the spacious first-floor room, my companion and I immediately spotted the critic Jerry Saltz deep in conversation with Just’s New York gallerist, the beautiful (according to New York magazine’s summer poll at least) Perry Rubenstein, while around them flitted Performa board member Stephanie French, Jeannie Greenberg Rohatyn, curator Chrissie Iles, and artist Christian Marclay. Before any discussion of Just’s imminent True Love Is Yet to Come, Saltz had a tip for us: based on her contribution to “Greater New York 2005,” the Village Voice scribe suggested making time on Monday, November 14 for Tamy Ben-Tor’s performance Exotica, the Rat and the Liberal.

Owe, Goldberg, Donna Karan

We took dutiful note: the three-week festival is spread across more than twenty venues and features the work of over ninety artists, so any advance guidance should prove invaluable. Seating ourselves in front of a heavily curtained stage, we also heard from Rubenstein about Just’s visa problems, with his last-minute arrival in New York (five o’clock Wednesday afternoon) only secured with the assistance of Washington DC-based collector and lobbyist Tony Podesta. A little after seven o’clock, the lights went down and the curtain drew back to reveal distinguished Norwegian film and television actor Baard Owe, who glanced around briefly before launching into Doris and Fred Fisher’s oldie “Whispering Grass.”

Goldberg, Just and Donna Karan

Fans of Just’s video work will have had no trouble reconciling this and what followed with his previous musical explorations of masculinity and sentiment, suffused as it was in noir-ish atmosphere and Lynchian histrionics. But Just took things several steps further here, blending Owe’s impassioned live renditions (which also included “Unchained Melody,” “Bless You for Being an Angel,” “You Always Hurt the One You Love,” and “Cry Me a River”) with some extraordinary layered projections that appeared almost holographic in their uncanny verisimilitude. Owe interacted with a variety of virtual settings and co-stars??including, most memorably, white-suited members of the Finnish Screaming Men’s Choir??and his total immersion in the artist’s wistful universe earned him and his director an enthusiastic reception.

Addressing the audience immediately afterwards, Goldberg described a blushing Just as “a magician” who had “transformed what could be expected from twenty-first century performance.” Thanking some of the numerous friends and benefactors who had facilitated both his participation and the biennial as a whole, she finally introduced a verklempt Karan. The black-clad magnate instructed us, tearfully, that her husband’s former studio is “a very sacred space” and waxed emotional about True Love Is Yet to Come: “It’s about moving forward and looking to the future . . . It’s about love. The answer is love! I love you all!” And, drifting upstairs to explore the expansive living room and exquisitely designed rooftop garden (“I said to Stephen ‘I have to be in the country,’” explained Karan, “so he said ‘Then I’ll build you a park’”), and taking in another round of emotional speeches from the key players along with our wine and nibbles, we were beginning to feel it.


24 Hour Incidental + Swiss Institute Swiss Contemporary Art
5468 days ago by

The Swiss Institute??s long, austere space was a refuge from the awful Saturday Soho crowds. My friend Will and I entered the gallery expecting, well, something to be happening. After all, this was a twenty-four hour performance including the works of ten artists. Curated by artist Jordan Wolfson, 24-Hour Incidental presented a wide range of experiences ?? from object-based and participatory, to observational and imagined. What we first found was a few strapping young men hammering and sawing away at some lumber at one end of the gallery (which seemed to be a last-minute construction, until I noticed the video camera set-up in front of them documenting their every move), a hammock strung up in a corner, and two seated people rapt in meditation with their hands on their noses, while they slowly drew a small vibrator over their biceps.

We stood there and stared at them for a moment, until they got up and continued looking around the gallery. Taking their seats, we read the instructions printed on the white school desks. This was Carsten H?ller “The Pinocchio Effect” (1994/2000), and the diagram and text on the desks instructed us to close our eyes, put our hands on our noses, and pull the vibrator along our upper arm to feel the sensation of our noses growing longer, or shrinking into our faces. We undertook the directives earnestly, and I really did concentrate, trying to find a particular spot on my arm that might trigger some kind of odd sensation in my nose. But alas, my nose stayed exactly the same size and all we got, besides a few minutes of sitting and focusing, which is rare enough, was to mystify new arrivals to the gallery into thinking we were the show.

Over on another desk by the windows was a sign-up sheet and a list of the Magnetic Fields?? 69 Love Songs. If you wrote down your phone number and chose a song, Swedish artist Karl Holmquist would call you and read you the lyrics. We immediately signed up, and about ten minutes later, my friend got the call. In a heavily accented monotone, Karl read the lovesong to us. We blushed.

We then realized that we could sign up other people too, and wrote down several more numbers. Later that day, I called the friends I had signed up. They were scared or excited: one thought he had a stalker, and the other told me she had received the ???most bizarre voicemail she had ever gotten in her life!??? My friend’s sister was convinced that she had mistakenly received a sincere love song meant for someone else, and called back the number to alert the sender that his message had reached the wrong phone. She was rather confused to receive the Swiss Institute’s voicemail.

Piero Golia

I received my favorite song later that day and will save this faceless stranger??s message saying ???should pretty boys and discos distract you from your novel, remember I??m awful in love with you??? for quite a while.

The hammock in the corner that I had originally walked past suddenly made a sound and I went over to peer into it. Hammock isn??t exactly the right word ?? it was more like a zipped-up tent-cocoon suspended from several ropes. Inside was a person sleeping, the tattooed artist Piero Golia. This was his “Untitled (Time Traveling),” and he planned to sleep for the entire 24 hours. If he succeeds I will be very impressed, as the boys building the wooden structure were making a racket. When they were quieter, Peter Coffin “Untitled (Incidental Music)” was played through bull-horns attached to various corners in the gallery. Peter programmed the gallery??s computer keyboard to make sounds when staff typed on it. As a young man intently tapped out his hotmail missive, the tranquil sounds of plucked strings sporatically dropped into the gallery.

Yes Painting by Yoko Ono
For the gallery to stay open for twenty-four hours, with Karl calling number after number, professing love or disdain to strangers, Piero continuing to sleep, and the built structure in the back (Annika Erikson??s “The Construction,” where for 12 hours a projection screen and benches will be built, and then for the next 12 hours, the video will be screened) to develop into something recognizable, required a particular kind of patience from the audience. Or, if not patience, then perhaps a re-structuring of expectations.

No stage, no curtain call, no schedule.

This caused my friend and me to linger, to wait for things to unfold, and not to be disappointed if we missed something happening. Certain performances were impossible to detect, even if they were occurring while we were there. Jason Dodge “Kristin Larson has been to the South Pole,” simply involved an anonymous appearance of Kristin in the gallery at some point, so that unknown to anyone, someone who had been to the South Pole would enter and leave the space. John Armleder??s “Coffee Break” instructed that someone leave to get a coffee or tea, unannounced and undocumented.

At midnight I returned, and the gallery was crowded and rowdy. Annika??s hired help were still hammering away in front of the video camera and more people were testing if their noses seemed to elongate or shrink. The lack of scheduled ???events??? created a relaxed and un-expectant atmosphere, yet there was the sense that anything could happen. People drifted in and out, sat on the floor or greeted friends, while around them, as the hours passed, undetectable things continued to unfold.

-Lyra Kilston


NYTIMES: Performance Art Gets Its Biennial!
5470 days ago by Defne Ayas


Performance art may be getting its unruly, influential, shamanistic act together. At the moment, it seems to be the art world’s medium of choice. Admired for its purity and subversive spirit, it is ubiquitous in gallery and museum exhibitions, whether on its own or as an active ingredient in video, installation art, sound art and photography. And performance art – also known as performance – is often the ghost in the machine in even the most static of objects; there is hardly a work of art with a scratchable surface that can’t be assigned so-called performative aspects.

As of last night, performance art also has a New York biennial to call its own: Performa 05, which has been coaxed into existence on a shoestring and possibly a prayer by RoseLee Goldberg, a veteran historian and curator of performance art. Ms. Goldberg, a South African by birth, grew up torn between dance and painting, resolving the conflict with a doctorate in Bauhaus performance that centered on the artist Oskar Schlemmer, who painted and performed.

As the founding director and curator, Ms. Goldberg is billing Performa 05 as the city’s “first biennial of new visual art performance.” The wobbly but vibrant inaugural version will unfold primarily in commercial art galleries and alternative spaces, through Nov. 21.

The biennial has emerged – without corporate sponsorship or even a sponsoring institution – seemingly out of thin air, hard work and fortuitous timing. The diverse credits on Performa’s chartlike schedule also suggest a certain talent for persuading diverse art entities – from the Guggenheim Museum to the Kitchen to the Anthology Film Archives – to stage their own events during Performa 05. One result is lots of margins and no center, a good thing. Performa is also enhanced by (even as it helps bring them into focus) a range of performance works on view at the moment in several unrelated exhibitions around town.

Artists Space signed on. So did the Swiss Institute; Salon 94; the Paula Cooper Gallery; Jack the Pelican in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the online radio station free103point9; the artists Christian Marclay and Christian Holstad; and the Yvon Lambert Gallery, which will sponsor a performance and related exhibition by Sislej Xhafa, a New York-based performance artist from Kosovo. The Austrian art collaborative Gelitin will turn Leo Koenig’s Chelsea gallery into a giant, live-in copy machine and spend a week open for business around the clock, copying by hand whatever anyone brings in. Thus Performa 05’s caldron of curatorial viewpoints will encompass performances, film screenings, symposiums and at least one panel, orchestrated by the artist Pablo Helguera, that will use opera singers and actors to dissect the panel format.

The phenomenon of performance art dates back at least to World War I and the days of Dada and the Cafe Voltaire in Zurich. Since then, artists have regularly used it to torpedo the status, definition and market value of art, while in many cases capitalizing on their own magnetic stage presences, sonorous voices or good looks in ways that predate modernity if not art.

The term itself dates from the early 1970’s, when it denoted the hodgepodge of nontheatrical events – including happenings – that visual artists, dancers and poets had been staging in New York since the late 1950’s. Conveyed then and now primarily through grainy black-and-white photographs or video, the events nonetheless reverberated through the art world, rife as they sometimes were with nudity, bodily fluids, social critique and identity politics.

The culture wars of the late 1980’s, especially the furor over Karen Finley’s chocolate-covered feminism, helped push performance art into the mainstream, confirming once more the publicity value of being denounced in the United States Senate. Since then, performance art has influenced music, theater, advertising, sitcoms and reality television. What is “Fear Factor” if not endurance art – performance’s hard-core subgenre – with bikinis and more viewers?

Now, you can get M.F.A.’s, Ph.D.’s and probably tenured teaching posts in performance art, which has also entered the American vernacular. A random sampling of recent articles in The New York Times found the phrase used in reference to news anchors, hood ornaments, a neighborhood bar, American evangelists and Kinky Friedman’s campaign for governor of Texas.

But performance art has been plagued throughout its history by its basic ephemerality. Like choreography or art exhibitions, it is a disappearing art form, even in these days of video and virtual reality. Once it is over, it is gone, and as a result, it tends to be omitted from history. The events in and around Performa 05 constitute a strike against that disappearing.

Ms. Goldberg has commissioned a few of the works, notably a short opera and first-time live performance effort by the Danish video artist Jesper Just, whose New York debut at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery last fall was one of the standouts of the season. Somewhat more dubiously, she has also commissioned the artist Francis Alys to convert a slow video striptease into an even slower performance. More often, though, she has provided context or connected existing dots, creating with quite a bit of help from her collaborators an unusually rich diagram of performance art’s past and present, in which the sublime promises to compensate for the ridiculous.

Jesper Just

Ms. Goldberg’s background as a painter may explain her use of the phrase “visual art performance” in the Performa 05 tagline and her conviction that many artists who don’t work in live performance should try it. So it was that she commissioned Mr. Just’s opera after seeing his poignant video meditations on loneliness, masculinity and popular songs at the Rubenstein gallery in Chelsea. (Two of them are being shown for the duration of Performa, along with “Something to Love,” his most recent video.)

Mr. Just’s new piece, “True Love Is Yet to Come,” is less an opera than a live music hologram whose restrained use of Eyeliner, a freshly patented computer program, allows real people and holograms to interact. As usual with his work, “True Love” includes the young blond actor Johannes Lilleore, who is present in hologram form. He is joined by Baard Owe, a well-known Norwegian actor who has been in several Lars von Trier films and whose agile and commanding presence is usually, but not always, real.

Making emotionally resonant use of the music of the Ink Spots, a high-speed plunge through a forest and the antique carousel from the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, the 30-minute work is a dreamlike tale of spurned love that could be either ambiguously filial or homoerotic. To see and hear it on its intimate, beautifully proportioned stage at the Stephan Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village is to experience technological innovation at the service of a haunting expressiveness.

Marina Abramovic

The most prominent dot that Ms. Goldberg has corralled into her Performa 05 diagram is “Seven Easy Pieces,” a series of performances by the Yugoslav performance innovator Marina Abramovic, produced by the Guggenheim, that will run at the museum for seven nights, starting on Wednesday. Ms. Abramovic will re-enact some of performance art’s earliest, most sensational classics – works by Bruce Nauman, Vito Acconci, Gina Pane, Joseph Beuys and Valie Export, as well as her own 1975 “Lips of Thomas.”

Each of these re-enactments, which, like the originals, will be unrehearsed, will be performed from 5 p.m. until midnight on a platform on the ground floor of the Guggenheim rotunda. The cavalcade of history will involve a dead hare, masturbation, crotchless pants and the use of razor blades, and promises a wild ride. At the least, it will be interesting to see how these works will be transformed by changes in time, setting and occasionally sex, and most of all by Ms. Abramovic’s highly concentrated brand of gravitas.

Other Restagings

The re-enactment of performance art as a way of both paying homage and retrieving some of the form’s past glories recurs in other Performa 05 events. In a program sponsored by the Museum for African Art at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Nov. 14 that also includes a work by the South African artist Berni Searle, Paul D. Miller (a k a DJ Spooky) will present “Re-Set,” a V.J. tribute to the video pioneer Nam June Paik. Mr. Miller will mix excerpts from Mr. Paik’s characteristically fast-moving, flashy videos with a new video of his own devising: it restages a performance by Charlotte Moorman, the cellist who was Mr. Paik’s longtime partner in aesthetic crime, played by the performance artist Joan Jonas.

In Mary Kelly’s lively exhibition at the Postmasters Gallery in Chelsea – which is not part of Performa 05 – you can find a relatively static, object-oriented re-enactment. It consists of three large light-box images that show the restaging of part of a 1970 women’s liberation demonstration outside the Albert Hall in London, protesting a beauty contest. Wearing strategically placed lights over their clothing, the participants seem to have swayed and wiggled (in an overtly sexual manner, you hope), creating a rising frenzy of moving light. The work exemplifies the easy intersection of politics and performance art and may look better here than it did the first time around. Mainly, you are glad that this bit of hilarious performance art has now been enshrined for posterity.

Tamy Ben-Tor

Back on the Performa 05 diagram, another significant dot is Tamy Ben-Tor, a dazzlingly talented young artist who will make her solo gallery debut with three performances of a work called “Exotica: The Rat and the Liberal,” at Salon 94, the city’s swankiest private-apartment gallery, starting on Sunday. Ms. Ben-Tor, an Israeli, was one of the better-kept secrets of last spring’s “Greater New York” exhibition at P.S. 1, with a video piece displayed in a hard-to-find hallway: it was about different women (all played by the artist) expressing contrasting views and theories about Hitler.

With a little polish and probably an agent, Ms. Ben-Tor might well salvage a show like “Saturday Night Live.” Her work combines the brazen, poxes-all-around political incorrectness of Kara Walker and Alex Bag with the shape-shifting proclivities of a walking, talking Cindy Sherman – meaning that her deft handling of wigs, costumes and female personas is coupled with a similar control of voices, accents and physical comedy. (Ms. Ben-Tor’s first full-fledged gallery exhibition, “Exploration of the Domain of Idiocy,” which opens at the Zach Feuer Gallery in Chelsea on Nov. 17, will include a selection of videos. The show will offer continued performances of “Exotica: The Rat and the Liberal” every Friday and Saturday at 4 p.m. until it closes on Jan. 14.)

On Nov. 20, Salon 94 will screen “The Music of Regret,” the first video (still in progress) by the set-up photographer Laurie Simmons. A musical with cinematography by Ed Lachman (“Far From Heaven”), it brings a new emotional and spatial dimension to her signature puppets, ambulatory objects (this time with real legs) and lush color sense.

The Alternatives

Performa 05’s diagram highlights the current vitality of New York’s alternative spaces. Artists Space, for example, is mounting an ambitious, nearly nightly five-week program of performance and film events, beginning on Nov. 17, that is so comprehensive that it will include an air guitar contest. Considerably more compressed is “24-Hour Incidental,” a series of performances at the Swiss Institute that begins at noon tomorrow and ends at noon on Sunday, and promises an appearance by Yoko Ono, one of performance art’s royalty. The biennial’s most hair-raising program may transpire at Participant, whose intrepid director, Lia Gangitano, has organized four crowded evenings, starting Nov. 15. The bill will cover the club, queer, punk and body art subsets of performance art, with personalities like Vaginal Davis, Ron Athey, Lovett/Codagnone, and the band My Barbarian. Luther Price, working with Katherine Finneran, will stage a live film/video/slide installation. This Sunday will bring a screening of “Coum Transmissions,” two recently rediscovered performance videos by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge from the mid-70’s, before he became a founding member of the industrial rock bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV.

What else? Plenty. At Anthology Film Archives, Jay Sanders, the new director of the Greene Naftali Gallery in Chelsea, has organized evenings devoted to the videos of the famously clueless performance artist Michael Smith and the films of the Dutch Conceptualist Bas Jan Ader, whose work is also the subject of a small show at Perry Rubenstein. At the Studio Museum in Harlem, the artist Clifford Owens will offer video examples of performance-as-studio-visit on Nov. 13, when the museum’s artists in residence, of which he is one, open their studios to the public.

And beyond Performa 05, the sky seems to be the limit. On the Upper East Side, the work of the French artist Yves Klein, one of the sources of postwar performance art, can be seen in a career survey at L&M Arts, and in a more focused show at the Michael Werner Gallery nearby. At Sean Kelly, you can watch the German artist Rebecca Horn deploying her distinctive body-extending sculptures in early-70’s videos. At the Gladstone Gallery, there is “Zarin,” Shirin Neshat’s latest video work, which tells the tale of a guilt-racked Muslim prostitute so vividly that it doesn’t need subtitles.

Much of the work in “Day Labor” at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center relates to performance in one way or another, but especially Daniel Bozhkov’s “Training in Assertive Hospitality,” a video and fresco documenting his tenure as a people-greeter (and self-appointed fresco painter) at a Wal-Mart in Skowhegan, Me., as well as work by Ms. Ben-Tor, Mika Rottenberg and Coco Fusco (who is also performing at the Kitchen in a Performa event).

In Creative Time’s beautiful exhibition “The Plain of Heaven” (in a former meatpacking plant at 832 Washington Street in the West Village), catch the installation/performance piece by the choreographer William Forsythe, in which Brock Labrenz, a tirelessly inventive dancer, improvises among a forest of plumb lines for six hours at a clip.

And back at Art in General, Lee Walton’s “Experiential Project” celebrates the performative aspects of life itself. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 4 and 5 p.m., some of the people who pass Art in General’s small, bleachered storefront project space do so again and again, making the same pauses and gestures each time. They are performers. It becomes a kind of game to figure out who is performing and who is not. Then you may notice that some of the people in the street are looking quizzically at you, probably wondering the same thing.

Information about events and exhibitions in Performa 05 is at 05.performa-arts.org or (212) 533-5720.