Performa’s 10th edition showcased a sold out performance by outstanding Estonian contemporary artists Kris Lemsalu and Kitty Florentine
On November 5th, Kris Lemsalu and Kitty Florentine’s performance ‘As Long as the Blood Beats in our Fountains’ premiered in New York as part of the official program of Performa 2023. Taking place at venues across New York from November 1st to 19th, the tenth edition of Performa brings together some of the most innovative visual artists working today.
The first-time collaboration of Kris Lemsalu and Kitty Florentine centered on a landscape of questions, pleasures, and transformations. The venture highlighted themes present in much of their individual practices: that wildness is really crafted after an image of ourselves, that the quotidian is often a surreal ecstasy, and that time’s passing is far more akin – like waiter itself – to metamorphic changes of state that to linear progressions of narrative.
Karin Laansoo, the curator of the performance, points out that the remarkable presence of Estonia in the international art scene deserves to be celebrated: “The selection of Estonian artists’ performance in the main program of Performa, in the jubilee year of the biennial, is a significant landmark for which a lot of preparatory work has been done. Of course, we are particularly pleased with the profound interest of the audience – the performance was sold out despite having two other events in the Performa program at the same time.”
Based between New York and Tallinn, Estonia, Kris Lemsalu is a multidisciplinary artist whose varied practice spans sculpture and performance. She represented Estonia in the 58th Venice Biennial in 2019. Her works have been exhibited worldwide, with recent shows at Kai Art Center, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Margot Samel, Temnikova & Kasela, Meyer Kainer, High Line Art, Hunt Kastner, and many others. Kris Lemsalu and Kyp Malone’s first joint commission was part of Performa 17’s Estonian Pavilion Without Walls.
Uncanny and ethereal, Kitty Florentine is an Estonian artist whose genre-bending practice explores the textures in sound you can touch and sense. Her notable recent performances include Øyafestivalen, Liveurope festival, What’s Next In Music, Tallinn Music Week and Music x Media Industry Awards. Her most recent album was nominated at the Estonian Music Awards in 2023 for Indie/Alternative Album of the Year.
Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center’s cooperation with Performa began in 2017 with the Estonian Pavilion Without Walls. Having Lemsalu and Florentine’s performance in the main program of Performa is a unique opportunity to highlight Estonian contemporary art in the world’s art capital.
The Performa Biennial, now in its tenth year, has created a global platform for the twenty-first century performance. Founded by curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa has produced 9 biennials since 2005, worked with more than 1,000 artists, and is one of the largest non-commercial contemporary art events in the United States, with over 250,000 total visitors. As an intersection of contemporary and performing arts, Performa illuminates the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century culture and is committed to encouraging new directions in the field.
As Long as the Blood Beats in our Fountains
Curator Karin Laansoo
Sculpture Kris Lemsalu
Sound and vocals Kitty Florentine
Production design Viktoria Martjanova
Audio technician Federico Bolagno
Lighting Andrew Giugno
Organized by Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center / Kai Art Center.
Supported by Baltic Culture Fund, Estonian Ministry of Culture and Consulate General of Estonia in New York.
Special thanks to Kristina Oras and Erik Liiv.