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Since it was launched in 2004, Performa has become the world’s leading performance biennial for visual artists. This year, four Swedish artists are participating with new works, in a special focus on Sweden in Pavilions Without Walls.
Éva Mag, Lap-See Lam, Tarik Kiswanson and Ylva Snöfrid have been commissioned to produce new works for Performa 19, which will take place at several venues in New York on 1–24 November.

Éva Mag will have a week-long collaboration with ten dancers in the historical landmark Judson Memorial Church. For the performance and installation work DEAD MATTER MOVES, they will create clay sculptures with textile skins and experiment with contact improvisation, culminating in a performance directed by Mag at the end of the week.

The new work by Lap-See Lam, PHANTOM BANQUET, explores the notion of cultural interstitialities. The work is a multi-channel installation and performance. Using narrative storytelling, virtual reality, live music and food, the piece invites participants to a banquet in a haunted Chinese restaurant.

Tarik Kiswanson’s new work explores migration and fragmented identities in the diaspora. In the installation AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE, eleven-year-old children from different parts of New York perform poetic, diaristic texts about growing up and the resulting human condition.

Set in her temporary habitat in Soho, Ylva Snöfrid’s work NOSTALGIA – ACTS OF VANITAS invites the audience daily to the artist’s work on a series of performances that blend painting and drawing with everyday rituals and ceremonies.

Performa’s program Pavilions Without Walls examines and reflects on social, geographical and political landscapes around the world. In addition to Sweden, Taiwan is also focused in this year’s edition of Performa. The Swedish pavilion is a major collaboration between several curators, artists, educators and historians and the Performa team, and explores the contemporary Swedish art scene.

The highlight on Sweden was made possible by the concerted efforts  and support of the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Program (Iaspis), the Iaspis/Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the Swedish Arts Council, the Swedish General Consulate in New York, and the Embassy of Sweden in Washington DC .  Each respective production is carried out jointly by several Swedish art practitioners with funding from a number of sources.

See below for more detailed information about each artist and their works.
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Still from Stand up, 2015, 10 min.

The Gym at Judson Church Memorial
243 Thompson Street, New York
19-22 November, 1.00 pm – 7.00 pm
23 November, 1.00 pm – 8.00 pm
24 November, 1.00 pm – 7.00 pm

Performa presents the new performance and installation work DEAD MATTER MOVES by the Romanian-Swedish artist Éva Mag. Together with ten movement artists and performers, Mag creates a durational work lasting one week in the historic Judson Memorial Church. Together, they will create clay sculptures with textile skins and experiment with contact improvisation, constructing a choreography with which to stage a performance directed by Mag at the end of the week.

Mag is a sculptor, photographer, video and textile artist who explores the dynamics of movement between the human body and sculptural object. Drawing inspiration from the history of twentieth century sculpture and from her own autobiography, the artist interrogates the ways that human bodies of all forms are valued by society. Specifically, Mag’s experience nursing her first child, whilst retaining an intimate sexual relationship with her husband, transformed the way she viewed the function of her body and its role and relationship to other bodies – her body no longer existed autonomously, it was part of a physical network of bodies that needed one another to survive.

This experience inspired a desire to work with raw clay – a malleable, yet densely heavy material – in order to consider how we “stand up”, both literally and psychologically. After several sculptural and performance-based experiments using rudimentary body-like clay forms, Mag understood that these figures could never stand up alone as they had no skeleton nor internal structure to hold them up. Instead, she began making life-size, hand-sewn, multicolored costumes, which she packed the raw clay into – these form textile “skins” that enabled her to move the “bodies” more easily – by dragging, manipulating, carrying, and hoisting the heavy, awkward shapes into the air, in a laborious exercise of contact improvisation with an entirely dead weight.

For Performa 19, Mag will transform the Gym at Judson Memorial Church – a space, celebrated for its historic role in the evolution of postmodern dance by artists such as Yvonne Rainer, Robert Morris and Simone Forti, whose groundbreaking works explored everyday movement, spontaneity, and the relationship between bodies and objects – into a factory for the production of clay bodies, which she hopes to stand up with the aid of the dancers. This performative process, a laborious and absurd task, results in an installation that makes visible the physicality of the dancers’ relationship to the sculptures, which, in turn, makes room for a psychological relationship between these human and lifeless bodies. Mag’s raw clay bodies can be considered as stand-ins or doubles in the Freudian sense, uncanny surrogates – just life-like enough but clearly not alive – with which the performers can act out their desires, unbound by the fragility of caring for a real human life. DEAD MATTER MOVES seeks to consider how much weight the human body can endure and how we can better shoulder the weight of our bodies and of our minds in order to rise up and stand.

Process documentation is a fundamental part of Mag’s artistic practice. In photographs, she presents clean fabrics representing hollow bodies, thereby creating a testimonial from the time before they were filled with clay or wax. Similarly, the audience at Performa will be able to experience the performance in its own right, as well as the ongoing process of creating a number of sculptures that will remain afterwards. DEAD MATTER MOVES is the starting point for Mag’s first solo exhibition, which will open at Bonniers Konsthall in April 2020.

Éva Mag (b. 1979 in Transylvania, Romania, lives in Stockholm) has a multidisciplinary practice that spans photography, sculpture, installation, photography and performance. An interest in the history of sculpture, amorphous forms, and strict modernist morphology undergirds her practice. She is also concerned with social aspects of art, specifically incorporating sculpture within the modes of choreography and performance. Mag has participated in exhibitions at Kunsthall Trondheim (2019 ); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2018); and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2018). She is a recipient of the Åke Andrén Stiftelse grant (2017).

DEAD MATTER MOVES is a Performa commission in collaboration with Bonniers Konsthall and is curated by Kathy Noble, Senior Curator and Manager of Curatorial Affairs, with Uchrnna Itam, Curatorial Assistant. Co-commissioned with Bonnier Konsthall. Supported by Iaspis/the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the Swedish General Consulate in New York, the Embassy of Sweden in Washington D.C., and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. With special thanks to Movement Research and the Romanian Cultural Institute.



Lap-See Lam, Phantom Banquet, 2019. Production photo, property of the artist and Galerie Nordenhake.

Deitch Box
18 Wooster Street
13–17 November, 8.00 pm, 9.00 pm, 10.00 pm

Lap-See Lam explores the notion of cultural spaces by inviting us to a banquet at a haunted Chinese restaurant.

For Performa 19, artist Lap-See Lam will present Phantom Banquet, a multi-channel installation and performance piece informed by the language and hospitality rituals observed at Chinese restaurants in Sweden, like the one her family owned for many years in Stockholm. With narrative storytelling, virtual reality, live music, and food, viewers are invited to enter into the cultural space that a Chinese restaurant in the west constitutes.

Lam examines various technologies, including 3D scanning, virtual reality and animation, to systematically document increasingly endangered old Chinese restaurants in Sweden. In her work, she draws attention to the cultural history of these restaurants, which is intimately intertwined with the imprints of the Hong Kong-Chinese diaspora across the world. Using fiction and the typical interior aesthetics and design of these restaurants, Lam considers how the idea of a place constructs notions of identity and belonging.

In Phantom Banquet, viewers are guided through a haunting four-part installation, beginning with a story set in 1978 in Stockholm of a young waitress who disappears through a mirror into another dimension. The narrative unfolds into a staged dinner banquet, a soundtrack, virtual reality and digitally-manipulated visualizations of real-life Chinese restaurants. A live musical performance accompanies the work, featuring vocals and instrumentals from Sweden and New York City. The work explores concepts around ghosts, moving bodies, becoming other, displacement and visuality, belonging and identity, and their influence in the contemporary physical and digital world.

Phantom Banquet is a continuation of Mother’s Tongue, 2018 – a collaboration with director Wingyee Wu – a video installation where 3D film sequences transport the viewer on a journey across space and time. In three chapters that play out in the past (1978), present (2018), and future (2058), Mother’s Tongue tells stories that revolve around social, cultural, and technological clashes through fictive monologues by three generations of women, who speak of their experience of the restaurant and how it changes over time.

Lap-See Lam (b. 1990, Sweden) has exhibited in Sweden and internationally. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Skellefteå Konsthall, Skellefteå (2019); Moderna Museet Malmö (2018–2019); and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2018). Lam has taken part in group exhibitions at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2019); Luleå Biennial (2018), Kópavogur Art Museum, Kópavogur (2018); Kendra Jayne Patrick, New York City (2018); and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2017). She is a recent recipient of the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Foundation Grant (2017). She is represented with works in the permanent collections of Moderna Museet Stockholm and L’Ascensore, Palermo.

Lap-See Lam’s work was commissioned by Performa and is curated by Sara Arrhenius and co-produced by the Royal Institute of Art. Supported by Christel Engelbert, Chairwoman of the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Foundation, Galerie Nordenhake, Bonniers Konsthall, the Swedish General Consulate in New York, the Embassy of Sweden in Washington D.C., and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.


Dust, Tarik Kiswanson, Centre Pompidou (2019)
Photographer: Charlotte Krieger courtesy of the artist and Centre Pompidou.

21 November, 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm
23-23 November, 7.00 pm – 8.00 pm

Tarik Kiswanson’s new work contemplates migration and fragmented identities in the diaspora.

Performa is presenting the first major performance work by the Swedish-Palestinian artist Tarik Kiswanson in the United States, as part of the Swedish Pavilion. Tarik Kiswanson was born in 1986 in Halmstad, Sweden, where his family exiled from Palestine in the 1980s. His artistic practice – which encompasses writing, sculpture, performance, sound and video works – evinces an engagement with the poetics of métissage: a means of writing and surviving between multiple conditions and contexts. His work examines aspects of migration, what is lost, and what is gained through displacement and the interstitiality that often arises. Notions of rootlessness, regeneration, and renewal are recurring themes in Kiswanson’s oeuvre. In the installation AS DEEP AS I COULD REMEMBER, AS FAR AS I COULD SEE, eleven-year-old children from different parts of New York perform poetic, diaristic texts relative to growing up and the resulting human condition.

Édouard Glissant’s ideas on the poetics of relation and the poetics of the diverse have greatly influenced the kinetic and responsive qualities of the artist’s work. As our contemporary moment is one of accelerating multiplicity, thinking relationally can help to actualize a shared world of “infinite difference.” His practice is shaped by movement, by blurring borders, by belonging nowhere and everywhere. His various bodies of work can be understood as a cosmology of related conceptual “families,” each exploring variations on themes like refraction, multiplication, disintegration, hybridity, and polyphony through their own distinct language: “my identity is one that is defined by multiple cultures, my work stems from my own condition of being a first-generation immigrant who is shaped by the aftermath of the diaspora. Throughout my life I have explored through writing and sculpture the question of identity and being ‘in-between’—the hybrid identity.”

An earlier iteration of this work took place at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris in May 2018, which Le Monde described as a “tender and hypnotic polyphony (that) provides a meditation on the human condition.”  In New York, Kiswanson reflects on the city’s rich history of immigration, by casting children from diverse backgrounds representing various neighborhoods, in the hopes of weaving together different versions of identity. His work is presented at a time of great uncertainty and instability for immigrants generally, and especially for those of Arab descent. Kiswanson’s cosmopolitan thinking and pluralist values imbedded in the work propose greater understanding and intercultural dialogue between participants and audiences.

As the first institution in Sweden, Hallands Konstmuseum will feature Tarik Kiswanson in a solo exhibition in 2021. In preparation for the exhibition, he will explore representations of Halland textiles in the museum’s collection, adding further layers to the artists cultural identity and offering a new perspective on the collection as such. This project also entails an opportunity to make room for artistic development, experiments and innovation, along with new ways of looking at weaving techniques and the textile heritage.

Tarik Kiswanson, born in 1986 in Halmstad, Sweden, in a family of Palestinian descent, holds a BA from Central Saint Martins in London and an MFA from Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In recent years, Kiswanson has become recognized as a major new voice on the European scene with solo projects at institutions including Centre Pompidou, Fondation Ricard, Lafayette Anticipations, Palais de Tokyo and Mudam. He has also participated in the Lyon biennial and is currently showing his work in the Ural Industrial Biennial in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Kiswanson is represented by Almine Rech (Paris) and carlier | gebauer (Berlin).
As Deep as I Could Remember, As Far as I Could See is co-commissioned by Performa, Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris, and Hallands Konstmuseum. Curated by Charles Aubin. With support from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, the Performa Commissioning Fund, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, Étant donnés Contemporary Art, a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE) Foundation, Institut français and Noreen Ahmad.



Ylva Snöfrid. “Ylva and Snöfrid's Transmutation Ritual, with Mirrored Spring, Snöfrid et les contre espaces, the Oracle and Tondo,” In the group exhibition “Retour sur Mulholland Drive”, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud LaPanacée, Montpellier, 2017. Photo: Olivier Cablat.

147 Spring Street
1–24 November
12.00 pm – 8.00 pm
Over the course of Performa 19, Ylva Snöfrid will create Nostalgia – Acts of Vanitas, a new piece which is at once both a work of art and a state of living. In her temporary habitat in a New York City loft, this new work will evolve through ongoing performances that incorporate the act of painting and drawing, the use of custom-made furniture, and personal objects; ordinary domestic activities such as bathing, cleaning, and cooking; and a series of conversations, tea ceremonies, and dinners dedicated to everyday life.
Nostalgia – The Vanitas Rituals is the last part of a ten-year artistic journey that began with the exhibition Snöfrid at Her Mirrors, an Odyssey (2009), in which the artist moved parts of her household into an exhibition space, merging for the first time her life and work into one entity. Later, in Athens, Greece, Snöfrid created The Painter’s Studio in the Shadow World (2016) – a holistic artwork covering the artist’s creative and private life, this work is not open to the public. As a three-sided mirror of the work in Athens, Snöfrid created Fantasia, a Reflection of the Painter’s Studio in the Shadow World, Divided in Three Parts, Dystopia, Heterotopia, Utopia (2019), an installation that the artist inhabited and painted through a series of performance rituals at the 16th Istanbul Biennial.
In New York, Snöfrid will conclude the Odyssey that began in 2009 amidst the traces and remains of the process of Nostalgia – Acts of Vanitas (2019). Throughout the four weeks of Performa 19, the audience is invited to the artist’s temporary habitat in a work that starts in emptiness, over and over again. Here, the viewer will meet the work of art, its present, future, past and imagination, in an encounter with the artist and the things needed to live and work.

Ritual underpins Snöfrid’s work: in 2017, she transformed from Ogland, the artist/mother/woman, to Snöfrid, her “mirror twin,” in an eight-hour transmutation performance at La Panacée in Montpellier. Using her vagina as an entrance to the mirror world, and paintings as trays for a serving ceremony to transmute with her spiritual alter ego, the artist notes: “Since early childhood she lived in the imagination that Snöfrid was her mirror twin, who had her own persona and lived in the mirror world. For many years, Ylva tried to get Snöfrid out into the real world through rituals, substances, paintings and big puppets. As a consequence of this process, Ylva and Snöfrid transmuted to One, the artist and the artistry became one, became me.”

Invested in the transformative potential of the otherworldly, Ylva Snöfrid (b. 1974, Sweden, lives in Athens and Stockholm) creates paintings and monumental installations using ceremony as a means to allow art to express something that is both spiritual and existential. Ylva previously lived in what seemed to be the real world, while Snöfrid existed behind the mirrors, in the so-called mirror world, (a world that is often described as less real). Snöfrid has been there since Ylva’s childhood, acting as her mirror twin. Later, she became a part of Ylva’s “art” (“art” as in what “artists” create). For many years, Ylva brought Snöfrid into the world through rituals and ceremonies, again and again and again... until they were finally fused into one – Ylva Snöfrid. For some years now, Ylva Snöfrid has been working and living in a secluded holistic artwork in Athens, “The Painter’s Studio in the Shadow World”. This work is not open to the public and consist of more than a hundred paintings, various objects, a home school, hundreds of drawings, and furniture made for the paintings.
Ylva Snöfrid’s new work for Performa is curated by Kathy Noble, Senior Curator, Performa, and Anna van der Vliet, ARtistic Director of ICIA - Institute for Contemporary Ideas and Art, with Uchenna Itam, Curatorial Assistant, Performa. Nostalgia – Acts of Vanitas is co-produced with the Institute for Contemporary Ideas and Art, Gothenburg and the Daniel Sachs Foundation, with additional support provided by Iaspis/the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.
Updated: 2019-10-22 Tell a friend


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