tite and artists names.jpg

Brought into Being:
Performativity and Formative Performance
February 11, 2013 – March 20, 2013

Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY College at Old Westbury
Curated by Robert Gero

Artists: My Barbarian, John Bock, Daniel Bozhkov, Mary Ellen Carroll, Allora & Calzadilla, Marcel Duchamp, Claire Fontaine, Marie Karlberg, Jorge Pardo, Michael Smith, Rirkrit Tiravanija

Performance and reception Wednesday, February 27th, 2013, 4:30 -7:30pm
Curator’s Talk: Monday, March 4th, 2013, 4: 30 pm

The Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY College at Old Westbury is pleased to announce a new
exhibition, Brought Into Being: Performativity and Formative Performance, curated by Professor
Robert Gero, new faculty member of the Visual Arts Program of the College.

The exhibition highlights the complexity inherent in performativity and performance and endeavors to
establish distinctions between them conceptually and materially. It includes works created for the
exhibition by Rirkrit Tiravanija, Daniel Bozhkov Marie Karlberg, and Jorge Pardo, as well as works
by Claire Fontaine, John Bock, My Barbarian, Michael Smith, Allora & Calzadilla, Mary Ellen Carroll, and
Marcel Duchamp.

“It is important to distinguish performance from performativity: the former presumes a subject, but the
latter contests the very notion of the subject” -Judith Butler

“Performance will be to the 20th and 21st centuries what discipline was to the 18th and 19th, that is, an
onto-historical formation of power and knowledge” -Jon McKenzie

Performativity and its roots are topics one encounters almost daily in the world of contemporary art and its
discourses. They are invoked regularly in radically ways with seemingly multiple meanings. Clearly not
reducible to an attribute or quality of performance, performativity has become a methodological approach.

One of the ambitions of this exhibition is to highlight the complexity of the concepts of performativity, the
performative, and performance, and then to begin an inquiry that delineates the distinctions between
these concepts and to work towards needed new definitions, or at least improved understanding.

A second ambition is to evidence how performance has come to pervade every aspect of our cultural
fabric. Extending beyond theatrical performances, performance art, rituals, and festivals, it may be
applied to all human practices that are now both seen and judged as 'performed'. As a social category, it
functions as a metaphor, an analytical tool, and an evaluative metric for all social and cultural phenomena.

A few historical notes will serve to set the historical and theoretical coordinates. Philosopher J.L. Austin in
his Harvard lectures of 1954 coins the term “performative” to refer to words that do rather than describe.
The classic example being, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” Here the performative constitutes the
very act that it performs, in other words, saying is doing, not merely representing. Some years later,
Influenced by Austin and Derrida, Judith Butler developed the concept of performativity to address how
subjectivity, identity, and gender are constructed. She argued that what is critical is iterability, the
performing repetition of social conventions (norms, codes, or contracts). For Butler, performativity cannot
be understood outside the process of repetition. Further, this repetition is not performed by a subject, it is
rather how the subject, identity, and gender are constituted. According to Butler, performativity also
possesses the potential to “open the signifiers to new meanings and new possibilities for political

Here, in abbreviated sketch form, we have the groundwork for an art practice whose stress is on process,
participant, event, and execution, the emphasis being on the investigation of cultural action and

Performance by Daniel Bozhkov is scheduled for Wednesday, February 27th, 2013, 4:30pm. A
curator’s talk is scheduled for Monday, March 4th, 2013 at 4:30pm. The exhibition remains on view
through March 20, 2013. Gallery hours are Mondays and Thursdays between 12pm and 5pm, and by