What is art? It’s a persistent question many have tried to answer. A clear definition might be hard to reach, but performing artists are exploring the question as a part of a new program in Queens.
The Queens Museum hosted a panel Sunday called “TALKaCTIVE: A Performance Art Conversation Series,” the first in a free, monthly presentation where performance artists can present their past work and hold a moderated conversation about it. The series is open to the public, and audience members can ask questions.
The invited artists for the panel were Thomas Albrecht, Chun Hua Catherine Dong (who called in via Skype), Rory Golden, LuLu LoLo and Nyugen Smith. Harley Spiller, deputy director of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc., moderated the conversation.
Among the highlights of the presentations were LoLo’s gender-bending performances as the early 20th-century “Gentleman of 14th Street.” The dapper gentleman would tip her hat and greet those who walked by. She clocked in 1,074 greetings and tips of the hat.
The program was organized by internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist Hector Canonge. He wanted to open a dialogue between the audience and artist. “I wanted to create a serious conversation to be a focus of this program,” he said. “It’s about sharing. It’s about contextualizing the work. It’s something we don’t do much in performance art.”
Moderator Spiller contemplated the importance of what performance artists do and put context about the motivations of a performance artist. “You’re there to engage the public in your work. You’re trying to engage more people in these ideas,” he said. “Performance art is infusing your body in the world. You’re trying to get some reaction.”
Technology’s tie to performance art also was mentioned. Golden used Instagram during the program for his presentation. Dong stated that technology gives the viewer an opportunity to be a part of the performance. “The audience using the technology is a performance itself,” she said.
The next forum in the series will be held on Oct. 17.