Performa 17: Red Herring and Mademoiselle x

Public Program
Nov 17, 2017
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Maria Metsalu, Mademoiselle X performance view, with carpet by Merike Estna, 2017. Produced by Kanuti Gildi SAAL. Photo by Alan Proosa.
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Merike Estna, Red Herring, performance view, 2017. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Vilde Livsdatter.
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Performances presented as part of the Performa 17 Consortium and the Estonian Pavilion Without Walls.

Merike Estna, Red Herring
Friday, November 17, 5–8pm

Maria Metsalu, Mademoiselle x
Friday, November 17, 7–9pm

Location & Hours
Art in General
145 Plymouth Street (Map)
Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201


As part of the Performa 17 Consortium and the Estonian Pavilion Without Walls, Art in General will present performances by Estonian artists Merike Estna and Maria Metsalu, curated by Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia Director, Maria Arusoo. The performances are also presented as part of Art in General’s International Collaboration exhibition, Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence, opening November 17.

Red Herring engages painting as a stage for human interaction. Merike Estna’s practice incorporates what she terms “performative paintings,” with allusions to the digital and the nostalgic, and a romantic reverence for parts of human existence that are mutating, melting, or slipping away. For Red Herring, she serves artist-crafted cocktails, inviting the audience to drink and converse atop her paintings. Inspired by Aleksandr Pushkin’s A Feast in the Time of Plague, Estna plays with our ideas of Romantic forms of representation and social space.

Maria Metsalu uses her body and voice to activate a programmed, sound-responsive installation in Mademoiselle x. The performance is inspired by a psychosis diagnosed in 1880 by French neurologist Jules Cotard, whose patient believed she was organless, dead, and, paradoxically, immortal. Metsalu mobilizes this notion of the body as a complex yet uncomplicated system—a realm where everything could be possible. The performance combines light, music, scenography, movement, and text lifted from video games and sci-fi movies to question the boundaries between reality and virtuality, considering our increasingly desensitized experiences of the surrounding world.

As part of the exhibition Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence, the performances and installations observe a shift taking place in the realm of our aesthetic and emotional sensibilities. Looking particularly to the female perspective, the exhibition attempts to address this uncanny post-accelerationist body in its new surroundings, questioning our state of turmoil, loneliness, and uncertainty surrounding the future.


Merike Estna, born in 1980, is an Estonian artist whose work inscribes the vocabularies of painting onto scenery and stage design, inviting visitors to activate her artworks with artist-made drinks, snacks, and napkins. Her recent work questions the gendered separations of painting, craft discourses, and digital communication. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Painting, and from Goldsmiths College, University of London with a Master’s degree in Fine Art Practice. Her work is featured in current and upcoming exhibitions at London Kunstraum; SIC Gallery in Helsinki, Finland; Karen Huber Gallery in Mexico City; and Kim? Riga. www.genialmythcraft.com

Maria Metsalu, born in 1990, is an Estonian choreographer and performer. Her works express an ongoing interest in self-mythologization and autopoiesis via new, corporate technologies in an attempt to understand their unique terms of social exchange and transformation. Metsalu graduated from SNDO (School for New Dance Development) in 2016, and is one of the founding members of international performance group Young Boy Dancing Group. Her work has been shown in Manifesta 11, Kunsthalle Vienna, Tallinn Art Hall, and the 2016 NU Performance Festival, Corporate Occult_let’s talk about the body baby in Tallinn, Estonia. www.maria.metsalu.com

Maria Arusoo, born in 1983, is an Estonian curator and director of the Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia. Since 2013 she has been the Commissioner for the Estonian Pavilion at Venice Biennial, executing large-scale commissions by Dénes Farkas and Adam Budak (2013), Jaanus Samma and Eugenio Viola (2015) and Katja Novitskova and Kati Ilves (2017). Recent independent curatorial projects include: CORPORATE OCCULT, let’s talk about the body baby, NU Performance (2016), which presented works by international artists that dealt with contemporary issues surrounding gender and the body; Art in the Era of Digital Capitalism (2016), a conference considering the tendencies of acceleration and post-2011 institutional alternatives, which included Franco Bifo Beradi as its keynote speaker; and numerous others.


Art in General was founded in 1981 and supports the production of new work by local and international artists primarily through its New Commissions Program and its International Collaborations program. Art in General also produces an annual educational program on critical and timely issues in artistic and curatorial practice.

Center for Contemporary Arts Estonia (CCAE), founded in 1992, is a non-profit expert institution in international cooperation projects with a role to activate and develop Estonian contemporary art scene, conceptualizing current tendencies of visual culture and participating in a critical dialogue in society. CCAE is organizing international exhibitions, conferences, artist talks, lecture series and curatorial visits, publishes catalogues and online editorial, collecting and distributing information about Estonain contemporary art scene and has extensive video archive since 1990s giving great overview of past two decades. Since 1999 CCAE is the commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and since 2016 co-commissioner of Baltic Triennial. CCAE works on collaborative projects both with local and international partners. To get an overview of our most recent activities, visit our website: www.cca.ee.

Performa, founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Since launching New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, the organization has solidified its identity as a commissioning and producing entity. As a “museum without walls,” Performa contributes important art historical heft to the field by showing the development of live art in all its forms from many different cultural perspectives, reaching back to the Renaissance. Celebrated worldwide as the first biennial to give special attention to this remarkable history, the Performa Biennial transforms the city of New York into the “world capital of artists’ performance” every other November, attracting a national and international audience of more than 200,000 and garnering more than five million website hits during its three-week run. In the last decade, Performa has presented nearly 600 performances, worked with more than 700 artists, and toured commissioned performances in nearly 20 countries around the world.


General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, The Cowles Charitable Trust; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The International Collaborations Program is supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, FUTURA, the International Visegrad Fund, The Asian Cultural Council, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, and Kanuti Gildi SAAL. Support has also been provided by: Commissioners’ Circle leaders Elaine Goldman, Richard Massey, Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters John and Andrea Nylund and David Solo; and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, Eric Nylund, Leslie Ruff, Steve Shane, and Diana Wege.

Special Project Support by Maaike Gouwenberg, Roya Khadjavi, Anu Vahtra, and PERFORMA 17.

CCAE Thanks Antonio Trecel Diaz, Priit Raud, Eneli Järs, Kanuti Gildi SAAL, Kaarin Kivirähk, Sten Ojavee, Marika Agu, Kadi Kesküla, Temnikova & Kasela gallery, Olga Temnikova, Kunstraum, Thomas Cuckle, Juste Kostikovaite, Lxo Cohen, Johnston Sheard, Paula lopez Zambrano, Karin Laansoo, Kadri Laas, Karen Huber gallery, Karen Huber, Octavio Avendano Trujillo, Lilian Hiob, Merilin Talumaa, Eha Komissarov, Kati Ilves, Ana Cardoso, Rupert, Juste Jonutyte, Adomas Narkevičius, Maximilian Gallo, Mariell Paala, Aime and Priit Estna, Nikola Kneževic, Young boy dancing group, Annina Machaz, SPARK Makerlab, and Sobarzo de Larraechea.


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Project Descriptions:

Merike Estna and Maria Metsalu
Soft Scrub, Hard Body, Liquid Presence
Performa 17: Red Herring and Mademoiselle x