Still from Stand Up, 2015, video, 10 minutes


The Gym – Judson Memorial Church

243 Thompson Street, New York


19-22 november 13.00 – 19.00

23 november 13.00 – 20.00

24 november 13.00 – 17.00


The Artist Will Transform the Historic Judson Memorial Church Into a Factory for Movement and Mass Production


Performa is pleased to present a new performance and installation by Romanian-Swedish artist Éva Mag. In collaboration with ten movement artists and performers, Mag will create a durational work in the historic Judson Memorial Church over the course of a week. Together they will make clay sculptures out of textile skins and experiment with contact improvisation to construct a score with which to stage a performance at the end of their residency, directed by Mag.


Mag is a sculptor, photographer, video and textile artist who explores the dynamics of movement between the human body and sculptural object. Drawing inspiration from the history of twentieth century sculpture and from her own autobiography, the artist interrogates the ways that human bodies of all forms are valued by society. Specifically, Mag’s experience of retaining an intimate sexual relationship with her husband during the nursing period of her second child, transformed the way she viewed the function of her body and its role and relationship to other bodies – her body did not exist autonomously, it was physically interconnected to other bodies that needed one another to survive.


This experience inspired a desire to work with raw clay – a malleable, yet densely heavy material – in order to consider how we “stand up”, both literally and psychologically. After several sculptural and performance experiments using rudimentary body-like clay forms, Mag understood that these figures would never stand up alone as they had no skeleton nor armature inside to hold them up. As such, she began to make life-size, hand-sewn, multicolored costumes, which she packed the raw clay into – these form textile “skins” that enabled her to move the “bodies” more easily – dragging, manipulating, carrying, and hoisting the heavy, awkward forms into the air, in a laborious exercise of contact improvisation with an entirely dead weight.


For Performa 19, Mag will transform The Gym at Judson Memorial Church – a space celebrated for its historic role in the evolution of postmodern dance by artists such as Yvonne Rainer, Robert Morris and Simone Forti, whose groundbreaking work explored everyday movement, spontaneity, and the relationship between bodies and objects –into a factory for the mass production of clay bodies that she hopes can be made, via the performers, to stand up. Hard yet absurd work, the process, performance and resulting installation will display the physicality of the performers relationship with the sculptures; and in turn offer space for a psychological relationship to occur between these human and inanimate bodies. Mag’s raw clay bodies can be considered as stand-ins or doubles in the Freudian sense, uncanny surrogates – just life-like enough but clearly not alive – with which the performers can act out their desires, unbound by the fragility of caring for a real human life. DEAD MATTER MOVES, seeks to consider how can we better shoulder the weight of our bodies and of our minds in order to rise up and stand, ruminating on the pressures the human body can withstand.


Archiving the work process is a fundamental part of Mag’s process. In photographs, Mag presents pure fabrics of hollow bodies, creating a testimony from the time before the fabrics are filled with clay and wax. Similarly, audiences at the biennial will experience the performance as a work in its own right, as well as the live process of making of a number of sculptures that are artifacts of the event. DEAD MATTER MOVES is the starting point for Mag’s first solo museum exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm opening in April 2020.




Éva Mag’s (b. 1979, Transylvania, Romania, lives in Stockholm) multidisciplinary practice spans photography, sculpture, installation and performance. An interest in the history of sculpture, amorphous forms, and strict modernist morphology undergirds her practice. She is also concerned with social aspects of art, specifically incorporating sculpture within the modes of choreography and performance. Mag has participated in exhibitions at Kunsthall Trondheim (2019); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2018); and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2018). She is a recipient of the Åke Andrén Stiftelse grant (2017).



Curated by Kathy Noble, Senior Curator and Manager of Curatorial Affairs, with Uchenna Itam, Curatorial Assistant, in collaboration with Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm. Co-commissioned with Bonniers Konsthall. Supported by Iaspis/the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and the Swedish Arts Council. With special thanks to Movement Research and The Romanian Cultural Institute.