07/29/2010 03:59 pm ET Updated 4 days ago

Perform! Now! Festival: Interview With Francois Ghebaly

This weekend, over 40 performances will take place in, out and around an array of Chinatown galleries as part of the second PERFORM! NOW! Festival. In anticipation of the event, with upwards of 100 artists presenting their work, ForYourArt interviewed co-producer of the festival Francois Ghebaly about how the event came to be and the performances he is most excited about. Support PERFORM! NOW! at the benefit event on Thursday, July 29 from 7 to 9pm at Francois Ghebaly and Human Resources and enjoy special performances by Julie Tolentino and Stosh Fila, Marcus Civin, Warren Neidich, Emily Lacy.

Image by Sandy de Lissovoy and David Kelley

What inspired the PERFORM! NOW! Festival?
PERFORM! NOW! created itself really... I had been thinking for a long time about using the streets of Chinatown as a venue for an art event that would engage the viewer beyond the usual gallery setting. With this idea, I reached out to my neighboring gallery owners and suggested that we join forces to create a summer event. The first year, curator Andrew Berardini organized a screening of video art in the middle of the Chung King Road alley, putting together videos from each gallery's program. Last year, artist Marcus Civin and myself came up with the idea for PERFORM! NOW! -- an event focusing on performance art. It turned out to be a huge success, with a few especially memorable performances by Dawn Kasper, Simone Forti, Nao Bustamente, Simon Leung and Micol Hebron.

Now we're back by popular demand! But this year's event wouldn't be possible without the hard work of Danielle Firoozi from Human Resources, Dino Dinco, Marcus Civin, and Lauri Firstenberg and her fantastic team at LAXART. PERFORM! NOW! is the result of a true collaborative process between artists, non-profit organizations, galleries and the city.

Flying False Colors by Aaron Sandnes on Chung King Road, 2009
Photo by Arthur Kergeis

What events or performances would you suggest people attend for an "introduction to performance art"?
I find the term "performance art" to be somehow limiting. Each artist is different, and in most cases performances are only one aspect of their practice. I would suggest the audience come to experience the program as a whole; come for the day or the evening, walk around, and pay attention. There will be much to see, and to discover; pieces that will be interventions in the crowd, sculptural, theatrical, influenced by music and dance.

Another good way to start, might be with he benefit on Thursday July 29th. It will be a more intimate event at Human Resources and my gallery with four special performances.

What are some of the performances you are most looking forward to?
There are so many, I will probably forget a few important ones, but Warren Neidich at Human Resources curated by LAXART will definitely be one of the highlights of the festival. There is also Dorian Wood with Joseph Teperman on Saturday, Marcus Civin's American Rifle in my gallery, Micol Hebron at Jancar Gallery, Matt Greene, Alex Steiger with Superman (yes, Superman!), Douglas Green with about 2000 performing snails, Robert Crouch / Volume curating Steve Roden, Liz Glynn, Dorit Cypis at Dan Graham, Marc Horowitz at The Company, Flora Wiegmann at Pepin Moore, Mark Verabioff in Kunsthalle, LA, Wanna Winni coming from Mexico for the festival, Lucas Murdiga at Charlie James and performances by Emily Mast.

Micol Hebron at David Salow Gallery 2009
Photo by Arthur Kergeis

What are some of the challenges in working to organize a performance art exhibition, over visual art?
In our case, we've been coordinating over 40 performances, with the participation of about 100 artists. It's like organizing 40 gallery exhibitions packed over a three day period.

Do you see the PERFORM! NOW! festival as an ongoing engagement? What can we expect in the future?
The future is next weekend for all of us. We will think about next year after we survive this one.