project image
Willan Octave-Emile

first performed on January 24, 2014
SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
performed once in 2014


Duan Yingmei, Jill Orr, Nathalie Mba Bikoro, BBB Johannes Deimling, Omar Ghayatt, Zhou Bin


What does it mean to take into analysis the present of performance art, if performance art itself never exists outside the present time? Performance art is a flux, but it does not run in a linear way. Instead, it builds systems of vortexes.

Performance art is always present, but contains in itself the long breath of the past and the possibilities of the future. When completely aware of its inner temporality, a performance resembles the dialectical image described in Walter Benjamin’s unfinished work Passagenwerk (Arcades Project): “Every present day is determined by the images that are synchronic with it: each ‘now’ is the now of a particular recognizability. In it, truth is charged to the bursting point.” Like the Benjaminian dialectical image, the performance artist’s gesture operates within a present that is the living stage of the encounter between what has been and what is yet to come.

Performance art can appear in many different places, but constantly occupies the same space, the space of the encounter between the gesture and the eye, the voice and the ear. The space of the “here and now.” Performance art has no structure, no general rules, but is a heterogeneous, multiple, continuous chain of new and renewed presences.

Present Tense Series was a composite program meant to investigate practices and theories of contemporary performance art through a series of live performances, artist talks and screenings, with the final aim being to open up a significant, fruitful discussion about this particular field of artistic production, which eschews any codification and possible classification.

The program, conceived for SAVVY Contemporary, brought together some of the most interesting performance artists from four continents, involving them in an open dialogue, in the context of which the gallery served as a catalyst of energies and ideas. Present Tense Series did not follow any curatorial ideology, no theoretical preconceptions have to be put at the base of this path. The key factor in the choice of the invited artists has been the necessity to always propose projects that refer directly, and meaningfully to the reality of present times, in all their complexity and mutability.

Featured artists were Duan Yingmei (China), Jill Orr (Australia), Nathalie Mba Bikoro (Gabon), BBB Johannes Deimling (Germany), Omar Ghayatt (Egypt), and Zhou Bin (China).