About Performa Institute

The Performa Institute is a year-round think tank that fosters learning, critical discourse, and a deeper engagement with performance by directly supporting its scholarly investigation. During Performa 15, the Institute is housed in the Performa Hub.

Its talks, conferences, and public discussions convene leading scholars in a range of fields, from architecture to art history, cultural studies, and beyond, with curators and contemporary artists. The Performa Institute presents programs in a lively, engaging, and surprising manner by interspersing research presentations, film projections, and performances, showcasing a range of in-depth programs for the presentation and exploration of ideas and the exchange of research and knowledge, with a focus on the study of history and on forging a new intellectual culture surrounding contemporary art. Asking artists, curators, writers, and scholars to function as educators across disciplines, the Performa Institute explored innovative visions for the future of art, ideas in New York City and around the world.  

Performa’s public programs preceded the biennial itself, beginning in 2004, a year and a half before Performa 05 took place, and nurtured the very ideas that would come to inform and lead to its creation through the Not for Sale series of talks at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Drawing on this rich legacy, the Performa Institute was officially launched on the occasion of the Performa 11 biennial (2011), during which it presented over 25 artist-led classes and workshops, as well as the historical exhibition 33 Fragments of Russian Performance with the Garage Center of Contemporary Art in Moscow. 

For Performa 13, in addition to 20 artist and curator talks, we presented our first artist residency with Jennifer Wen Ma, and introduced a new program of artist experiments with Derrick Adams, the Free Seekers Collective, and Ahmet Öğüt, as well as a special archival program drawn from the holdings of New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections.  

The Performa Institute is made possible thanks to support from Toby Devan Lewis, the Ford Foundation, Lambent Foundation, David & Elaine Potter Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions.

Performa Institute is organized by Performa Curator Adrienne Edwards.