“Like a time capsule, the show takes you back to the recent past in New York art history. But with enough patience, it becomes clear that work is as relevant today as it was then, defiantly edgy and challenging.”
This exhibition illuminates a radical period of 1970s performance art that flourished in downtown Manhattan, or what filmmaker and performance artist Jack Smith called “Rented Island,” and still remains largely unknown today. Working in lofts, storefronts, and alternative spaces, this group of artists, with backgrounds in theater, dance, music, and visual art, created complex new forms of performance to embody and address contemporary media, commercial culture, and high art.
Rituals of Rented Island includes: Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson, Jared Bark, Ericka Beckman, Ralston Farina, Richard Foreman/Ontological-Hysteric Theater, Julia Heyward, Ken Jacobs Apparition Theater of New York, Mike Kelley, Kipper Kids, Jill Kroesen, Sylvia Palacios Whitman, Yvonne Rainer and Babette Mangolte, Stuart Sherman, Theodora Skipitares, Jack Smith, Michael Smith, Squat Theatre, Robert Wilson/Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds, and John Zorn/Theatre of Musical Optics. As part of the exhibition, performances will take place both within and outside the exhibition’s galleries, including reinvestigations of groundbreaking 1970s performances by Laurie Anderson, Jared Bark, Julia Heyward, Sylvia Palacios Whitman, and others.
Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980 is organized by Jay Sanders, Curator and Curator of Performance.
Significant support for this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
In conjunction with Rituals of Rented Island, join us at Anthology Film Archives for a film series co-curated by J. Hoberman, Andrew Lampert, and Jay Sanders. The series includes videos, films, and documentation and features many pieces not on view in the exhibition. All screenings take place at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003.
In this important volume, Jay Sanders and J. Hoberman explore the vibrant underground performance art scene of 1970s New York. Focusing on little-known and long-forgotten works, which were often performed in live/work lofts, storefronts, and alternative spaces of the city’s SoHo district, often for an audience comprising a handful of fellow artists, this catalogue makes newly visible a critical period in the development of performance art.
This catalogue is no longer available at the Museum shop
Interview: "Rituals of Rented Island: Babette Mangolte"
"Like a time capsule, the show takes you back to the recent past in New York art history. But with enough patience, it becomes clear that work is as relevant today as it was then, defiantly edgy and challenging."
"Rituals of Rented Island is an essential show."
"A walk-in Wunderkammer whose curiosities include electrified costumes and glow-in-the-dark props as well as film footage, photographs, and ephemera."
—The New Yorker
"Mr. Sanders is doing the right curatorial thing in bringing [certain figures] back to the spotlight."
—The New York Times
"Those ’70s Shows: An Interview with Jay Sanders"
—Art in America
Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan 1970–1980 . . . promises to revisit an era in New York when performance art was still a daringly ephemeral, market-challenging medium, not the big-ticket, deluxe, staged and restaged thing it has become.
—The New York Times
"I Remember Ralston: J. Hoberman on the Art of Ralston Farina"
"8 Museum Shows You Need to See This Fall"
—The L Magazine
"The radical performance-art period of the 1970s gets a multimedia rewind."