By Tammy Scileppi
An art intervention can happen anywhere.
And whether carefully scripted or randomly done, no two of them are ever alike.
On some level, it seems the raison d’être for these interventions may be just to defy the mainstream and diss the conventional, but it’s much more than that.
Oftentimes, artists create unexpected interventions in order to reflect their frustration with things as they are. By turning that angst into an expressive, aesthetic work, they get viewers thinking and generate conversation.
In Queens, this trend has taken the local art scene by storm, and audiences can experience a series of traveling interventions during the 2015 Itinerant Performance Art Festival, which is taking over the city through Nov. 21, with stops at the Queens Museum.
“The Itinerant Performance Art Fest and Queens Museum are a perfect match,” Rob MacKay, Queens Economic Development Corp.’s director of marketing and tourism, said. “Both are dedicated to diverse, international, thought-provoking, and high-quality art. Plus, they both always seem to be ahead of the creative curve. I can’t wait until it begins, because this festival is going to change the way people look at the world.”
Itinerant features the works of local, national and international artists, who will present pieces that relate to issues affecting many New York City communities. And roving artists who are coming to Queens from Europe, Latin America and Asia will transform outdoor and indoor spaces into live “canvases,” where they can showcase and share their unique talents with the public.
Hector Canonge, the creator of Itinerant, as well as an interdisciplinary artist, curator and cultural entrepreneur, settled in Jackson Heights after returning to area from three years working abroad.
Canonge said he wants to “facilitate the presentation of artists, whose works deal with issues that are relevant to present-day concerns about identity, gender, territory and the politics of migration.”
He said there isn’t one message, but a plethora of ideas, practices and visions.
“I started working in performance art in 2009,” Canonge said. “Since then, my work has taken a different turn, where my body is the object and subject of creation, exploration and presentation. Through Itinerant, I want to give a better understanding of this art form.”
In the spirit of art for art’s sake, participating festival artists will perform in a special indoor space at the Queens Museum, and you can catch their works, along with performances by other artists, who are visiting from more than a dozen countries. Brooklyn-based artist Diane Dwyer described her piece, “Art for Rich People to Stand On,” as “an interactive project, a participatory performance that offers up questions and presumptions about who art is made for.”
Her painting is laid on the floor, the canvas has been treated with polyurethane and made into a traditional floor cloth. A sign with the installation’s name is placed next to it.
Part of what she is doing, Dwyer said, is finding out who will stand on the painting.
“In truth most of us are far richer than the global standard,” Dwyer said, “but who identifies as such?”
Costa Rican artist Rossella Matamoros will also present her work at Queens Museum Nov. 14.
“In a world where the identity process of people is challenged daily, I look to connect with people’s questions and principles: fears, worries, family, etc., and especially to create a strong statement about identity and hope for restoration of the inner strength,” she said, describing her piece “Heart—Corazon.”
Matamoros’ main subjects of research, trauma and recovery, with an emphasis on abusive relationships, have been integrated and explored in her works.
Here’s a glimpse of her upcoming performance: “The woman is searching and singing for meaning. As in the jungle, the scream becomes a call for attention; she is there, in her cave, reorganizing her space and her reality. Her history is in the books; at times trying to remember, she rubs and stamps them onto her body,” Matamoros said.
Taking cues from the play “Waiting for Godot,” Kingston, N.Y.-based artist Thomas Albrecht’s “Waiting, 2015,” is a duration performance and will last up to three hours.
“It will consist of me standing motionless, waiting, with a suitcase in hand, looking at my watch occasionally, as I stare off in the same direction for the entire performance,” he said. “Witnesses will also have to contend with boredom and tedium, which are significant aspects of the work. And the anxiety of searching the horizon for something that may never arrive.”
Canonge, who started Itinerant in 2010, said he is excited to be bringing it back to the city and Queens in particular.
“This year’s festival is really a labor of love and hard work, as it has been done in collaboration with institutions that believe in me and my contributions to the cultural and artistic landscape of New York City,” Canonge said. “It is also a labor of commitment from participating artists, as they are taking care of their own expenses. It’s truly a beautiful international network that is being created to support one another.”
If You Go
Itinerant Performance Art Festival NYC
When: Saturday, Nov. 14 and Sunday, Nov. 15, from 2 pm – 5pm; Saturday, Nov. 21, from 3 pm – 5 pm; and Saturday, Nov. 21, from 7 pm – 10 pm
Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park (Nov. 14 and 15); Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle Plaza, Roosevelt Avenue and 83rd Street, Elmhurst (Nov. 21 at 3 pm) and Atrium PS 69, 77-02 37th Ave., Jackson Heights (Nov. 21 at 7 pm)