Cart 0

About Us

See Our Gifts

Performa, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization established by RoseLee Goldberg in 2004, is dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century.


Performa’s Objectives are:

- Commission new performance projects in visual arts
- Present a dedicated performance biennial
- Consult and collaborate with art institutions and performing art presenters around the world to create dynamic and historically significant performance programs
- Offer an ongoing educational platform for expanding the knowledge and understanding of this critical area of visual art and cultural history


Performa is the brainchild of RoseLee Goldberg, whose definitive book, Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present (1979 & 2000), pioneered the study of performance art and has been translated into nine languages. Ms. Goldberg’s writing, as well as her activities as curator at The Kitchen in the late 1970s, has shaped the public’s view of live performance as a visual art form for almost thirty years.

In 2001, Ms. Goldberg originated and produced visual artist Shirin Neshat’s first live performance work, Logic of the Birds, with critical and popular success in both New York and London. The idea to create a biennial, with a specially commissioned new performance as the centerpiece, evolved from this highly successful production.

Committed to initiating new directions in visual art performance and to providing a framework for its history and reception, Ms. Goldberg founded Performa in 2004.



The Performa Commissions program originates new performances by inviting artists, “many of whom have not worked ‘live’ before” to create work especially for the Performa biennial. Selected by Performa Director RoseLee Goldberg, commissioned artists work closely with the Performa production team from conceptualization to presentation, including international tours following the biennial. Several Performa Commissions have been made possible through dynamic partnerships with international organizations such as Sadler’s Wells, Documenta, and S.M.A.K.


Performance has always been an important catalyst in the history of twentieth-century art, and the Performa Biennial recognizes its vital and ongoing impact on contemporary art and culture and provides opportunities for both established and emerging artists to present new performance for the twenty-first century.

The unique structure of the Performa biennials, which bring more than 40 of New York’s leading arts and cultural institutions and 25 different curators together to present live work in all disciplines over the course of three weeks, transform the biennial format into something that links minds across the entire city, cross-pollinating diverse audiences among many different venues and turning the biennial into a tool for arts advocacy, since it can only exist as the sum of many parts.

Not For Sale

Performa presents lectures, panel discussions, and workshops on an ongoing basis that explore critical issues surrounding performance and its relationship to the museum, gallery, and collector. Performa’s Not For Sale symposia series has been co-sponsored since 2004, by New York University and are organized by RoseLee Goldberg, Founding Director, and Defne Ayas, Curator, Performa.

Writing Live

As with Performa 07, Writing Live during Performa 09 brought together an international group of young critics, curators and artists to generate writing material related to the Performa biennial. Writing Live is a continuation of the ongoing Not For Sale public education series, which features artists, authors, and critics discussing the current issues in performance and new media, and the related task of writing about art and artists whose work encompasses several disciplines at once. Directed by RoseLee Goldberg and Defne Ayas, and organized in collaboration with Open Dialogues (Rachel Lois Clapham and Mary Paterson) at Cooper Union. For more information, click here.


Since 2005, Performa has produced three biennials to critical acclaim, triggering an exciting new trend in museum and exhibition planning around the world; Major arts institutions are now presenting important performance art exhibitions and festivals, and indeed, the combined effect of all our efforts has exponentially raised the profile of performance by artists for the broad public and media alike. Performance is more relevant than ever before, as art institutions grapple with ways to present historical material of live art and to respond to the multidisciplinary practices of artists working today.

Awards and accolades include being in the “Top 10” list of two Artforum writers for Mike Kelley’s Performa 09 Commission; Performa 09’s opening night commission, Creation by Jennifer Rubell, being nominated as “Alternative Project of the Year” by the Rob Pruitt Art Awards; being included in Art Review’s “Power 100” list for “the impact of (Performa’s) festival on the international art landscape”; and being honored by Independent Curators International with the Agnes Gund Curatorial Award for outstanding curatorial achievement.


Performa 11, the fourth biennial of new visual art performance, will take place in New York City from November 1-20, 2011.


RoseLee Goldberg, art historian, critic, curator and author whose book Performance Art from Futurism to the Present first published in 1979, pioneered the study of performance art. A graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art (London University), she was director of the Royal College of Art Gallery in London and curator at The Kitchen in New York. In 1990 she organized ‘Six Evenings of Performance’ as part of the acclaimed exhibition ‘High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Author of Performance: Live Art Since 1960 and Laurie Anderson), she is a frequent contributor to Artforum and other magazines. In 2001-02 Goldberg originated and produced Logic of the Birds , a full length multimedia production by Iranian born artist Shirin Neshat in collaboration with singer Sussan Deyhim, which premiered at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival in 2002 and toured to the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis and to Artangel in London. RoseLee Goldberg has lectured extensively at The Architectural Association in London, California Institute of the Arts, Yale, Princeton and Tate Modern, and has taught at New York University since 1987.


Laurie Beckelman
Irving Benson
Todd Bishop
Wendy Fisher
Stephanie French
Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn (Chair)
RoseLee Goldberg
Ronald Guttman
Barbara Hoffman
Michael Kantrow
William Kornreich
Toby Devan Lewis
David Orentreich
David Raymond
Illya Szilak
Julie Thornton


United States


New York


100 W 23RD ST FL 5
NEW YORK, NY 10011-2457
Phone: (212) 366-5700
EIN: 20-1286572

A Gift Card

Arts and Culture

Commission Fund

Fund new commissions

Enjoy first hand experience of the artistic process – conversation, studio visits, and rehearsals – with Performa Commissioned artists, as they work to realize their visions for an extraordinary new art of the 21st Century. Be directly involved with one of the most dynamic arts organizations working in New York and internationally that is changing the way we view and understand contemporary art. Experience master...