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This week New York welcomes “Performa ’09“, the third biennial of performance art to hit the city. The event features more than 150 artists over three weeks, and one of whom has me very excited.

I was lucky enough to experience South African artist Candice Breitz’s video installation “Legend” a few years ago, and have been a devoted fan ever since. “Legend” is an homage to Bob Marley using 30 of his fans. She had each of them wear headphones in a simple studio setting, and then individually recorded them singing the entire album. The effect is stunning: the videos are synced so it appears that all 30 participants are singing together a cappella (imagine grooving to your favorite song when you think you are alone):

There’s an even better quality version of the video on Breitz’s website, along with similar homages to John Lennon, Madonna, and Michael Jackson.

Breitz’s usual media are video and photography. For “Performa ’09” she is directing her first live performance, “New York, New York.” She’s working with four sets of twins: each set will work with her to develop a single character. Then the twins will be separated into two groups, who will do independent, improvised performances based on their characters. As with much of her work, “New York, New York” is meant to address the complexity of individuality. This work may raise more questions than it answers, but promises to be fun while doing so.

New York New York Performa

– Susie Karlowski

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