Tulsa’s Living Arts hosted the New Genre Arts Festival the first weekend in March. Each year the festival showcases contemporary works from a variety of artists.
“I can’t speak on the way that the festival used to be because I’ve only been in this position for six months but I can speak on what my goals for this year’s festival are,” says Jessica Borusky, Artistic Director of Living Arts of Tulsa.
“My goals for this year’s festival is to bring in a wide range of performance art practices in order to kind of elevate the conversation about performance art and its different iterations within the Tulsa community both with viewers but also with, in, and among the artist community here in Tulsa.”
The participating artists have contributed a total of 16 contemporary works to the festival.
“We have local artists, regional artists, national, and international artists that will be making work over the two day period that the festival. The goal is to showcase the breadth of what performance art practice is today, particularly art that is critically engaged in order to develop a shared lexicon about performance art within Tulsa,”Borusky said.
In addition to fostering a new shared lexicon, this year’s festival is intended to challenge the way that performance art is viewed, both literally and figuratively.
“I hope that viewers walk away felling as though they were asked to think differently about their viewership, how they might think about art practice in general, how they might think about viewing art, and how viewers within a context like this are not just passive but kind of active in their viewership,” She said.
“So, really expanding what a viewer is or can be but also with an understanding that performance art doesn’t look one way but performance practices take on a lot of different forms in media.”
The festival celebrates performance art, a genre that many people may not be familiar with.
“There’s a couple of different ways to think about performance art,” Borusky said.
“Performance art as a genre of art is as large of a net, at this point, as painting or sculpture or photography.”
“The instillations that one might be during the New Genre Festival are performative, which means that they have some kind of activated component in them. For example, Jessica Davenport’s instillation has not only prerecorded elements of actions that were done by different people, but then there will be live component,” she said.
One of the artists featured in the festival has contributed a different type of instillation.
“Jorden Vinyard, who is out of Oklahoma City, her instillation in the Myers gallery is kinetic, and kinetic sculpture is often what we would call performative sculpture is has a moving element sometimes activated by the audience.”
“The way that I often designate performance art is: How does the view come about the work?”
Several of the pieces featured allow for the exploration of this question.
“Performance art practice often askes that the viewer is not passive or stable for example experimental theater or experimental dance might still require the viewer to be in a seated dark area to view work on stage so there’s a separation between the activity and the action on the artist, and the viewer,” Borusky said.
“With performance art practice, that space between viewer and art object is more porous. We often stand right next to the work or the art work comes into the audience’s space, performance artwork and this will be case with many performances at New Genre, will be much longer in duration that what you might typically see at a dance piece or a music piece, or theatre piece.”
This is the case with many of the 16 works in this year’s festival.
“Some of the performance pieces will be for the whole weekend. Those artists will be making the performance piece the entire time. Daniel DeLuca will be a six hour performance. Some will be more brief, but mostly it’s the ways in which an audience is involved that designates performance art verses other kinds of live art or practices,” Borusky said.
For more information on the New Genre Arts Festival visit, http://livingarts.org.