Since its last iteration, Performa has rewarded its top Biennial commission with the Malcolm Award, named in honor of the late, formerly ever-multitasking Malcolm McLaren. This year the honors go to New York-based multimedia artist Ryan McNamara for his MEƎM: A STORY BALLET ABOUT THE INTERNET. If this dispatch from T is to be trusted, the performance was truly as overloaded and intense as the World Wide Web itself:
“Next, I was wheeled to another room, where two women in oversize black-and-white-striped prisoner blouses repeated the same laconic pas de deux to a suspenseful orchestral score that may or may not have been the theme to Vertigo. I felt like a patient in a nursing home, passively moved from place to another, never quite able to focus entirely on what was happening right in front of me…”
The Malcolm jury (comprised this year of rising star Adam Pendleton, omnipresent critic Linda Yablonsky, and Lawrence Kumpf of Issue Project Room,) said that MEƎM turns “the idea of spectatorship on its head, furthering the passivity of the audience by literally moving them around the theater, one by one, on specially designed chairs, echoing the ways in which we surf the web, constantly moving between images.”
McNamara gets the not-insignificant sum of $10,000 for his efforts, plus the exposure that comes with it: Keep in mind that the first Malcom Award winner was the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who is now prepping for a major show at the New Museum in 2014.
Performance photos by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.