Site-Specific Performance Symposium

Don’t miss the 2009 Site-Specific Performance Symposium: Space, Theatrical Intervention, & Innovation

Curated by: Bertie Ferdman, Gulgun Kayim, & Frank Hentschker

May 14-16, 2009 at MESTC/Graduate Center at CUNY:

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in the use of non-theatre spaces for performance: from empty garages and automobiles, to underground tunnels, cafes, lakes, laundromats, lobbies, empty pools, private apartments, boats, and empty warehouses–the list is practically endless. Performing artists, out of necessity or out of choice, are seeking unorthodox locations to create and present their work. Artists, curators, and producing organizations are increasingly using the term “site-specific” to designate work staged in alternative locations. As a general rule, “site-specific” is a term used to describe artwork that has a relationship with its surroundings, architecture and/or landscape. Its many permutations intersect with land art, performance art, conceptual art, installation art, community-based art, public art, and experimental dance and theatre. It is a practice with many modes of actualization, disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. As institutions have increasingly engaged in supporting site based work, the term “site-specific” has also become a vague and comfortable marketing tool to bracket together anything that doesn’t occur inside a theatre. It is important to examine the relationship of theatre practices to site-specificity, in order to document the variety of discourses and attitudes around site-specific theatre and open up a field of discussion on this emerging form of experimentation.

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center held the first in the US international symposium surrounding the topic of site-specificity in the performing arts in the Fall of 2006. It served as an introduction to this fast developing field and featured prominent artists in the field such as Meredith Monk, Skewed Visions, Charles Mee, and Stephen Koplowitz. Symposium 2009 serves as a continuation of this initial dialogue.

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