By Jennifer Ward
“Hard Return: 9 Experiments for this Moment” concept art created by Brendan Fernandes in collaboration with Christine Shulz (Photo via Stacy Leistner)
Purchase welcomed a brand new exhibition to campus entitled “Hard Return: 9 Experiments for this Moment” during the first week of February. Extending all the way until May, a series of nine different performers will come to campus to perform at the Neuberger museum in shows– including student talent.
In this ambitious and collaborative project, one of the major focuses of this is to grow a connection between the campus community and the Neuberger itself. Every artist coming to present their show has hired students on campus to perform, giving creative minds an opportunity to perform with internationally renowned artists in their field.
“I’m excited to be afforded the opportunity to work with campus partners as well as professional collaborates,” said Briana Reid, a sophomore theater and performance and anthropology major who is performing. “It’s really special to help these artists see their visions come to life within our community and I can’t wait to begin the process.”
The Neuberger aims to see what comes out of this brand-new collaboration, as well as to see what organically comes out of conversations had between students and artists, how the museum reacts, and how visitors react to the performance.
“The relationship between the students and the museum is something that is really important because it works both ways. The museum exists because of the students, the students have this opportunity in front of them to actually be a part of this institution,” said Marcus Jamison, a Purchase alumnus and assistant curator of education and academic programs at the Neuberger Museum. “It’s something that I want to allow for a greater conversation, to say what can the Neuberger do, how can we support the Neuberger, and how can the Neuberger support us.”
“To have such an amazing institution on campus and to have it not be sort of activated by all of us, for me, is a real waste of a resource,” said Kate Gilmore, a professor in art and design.
“The idea is to bring the campus community together and bring the artwork together,” said Jonah Westerman, assistant professor in art history. He continued, “For me, one of the biggest measures of success for the show would be how much it activates and engages with the rest of the campus and how much we can bring Purchase into the museum, and maybe vice versa.”
With the Neuberger being an art gallery, having live performances showcased is a newer concept, opening up the conversation about the difference between visual art and performance art.
“This exhibition is going to generate many questions about performance, so I would say people should come with an open mind,” said Jamison.
Live performance, although an art within itself, is not considered to be in the same category as visual art. Museums don’t typically hold live performances for an audience member to go view, that is meant more so for painting, sculptures, and artwork under that light. This exhibition is allowing Purchase the opportunity to break that barrier and experiment with allowing performances to happen within the museum.
“With painting, it’s very obvious, the 3-dimensional object is in front of you. But with performance, it gets a little bit tricky,” said Jamison. He continued, “I think the goal in part is to display different aspects of performance that the average museumgoer might not be accustomed to.”
“Performance as a set of attitudes, expectations, and techniques is something that comes through the story of visual and fine arts. It really changed in a big way what people expect from art in general,” said Westerman. “It’s another way of exploring a sort of intersection, the shape of the contemporary, and how it relates to the audience.”
With live performances happening almost every day in the museum, there are many opportunities to catch one of these many diverse shows. Performances ranging from operas, vogue choreography, and even a cooking show, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Performances will be spaced out throughout the semester, with shows having a one-week residency in the South Gallery of the Neuberger, split up into seven different galleries. Including performances from many different artists including Alix Pearlstein, Daniel Bozhkov, and Nao Bustamante.
“I’m trying to make sure that the students on campus actually feel like not only is the Neuberger listening to them but also, it's a cool thing! They didn’t have this when I was at Purchase,” said Jamison.
Nao Bustamante performing in “Bloom” in 2022
(Photo by Eleanor Goldsmith)
Information about the artists and the dates for their performances can be found here.