Down at the Arcade

Former Topshop (Midtown) 608 5th Ave, New York, NY 10020

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Oct 16, 12:00 am—1:00 am

Oct 17, 12:00 am—1:00 am

Oct 17, 6:00 pm—7:00 pm

LIVE STREAM: October 15, 16, 17, click Watch Live, top right corner

Sara Cwynar manipulates found imagery from commercial advertising, investigating how popular imagery infiltrates our consciousness as well as our ever-changing ideals of beauty. For her first live performance, Cwynar will illustrate how image and language are used to create false social and political realities––online and in real life––to address the overwhelming media bombardment that we experience in contemporary society. Audiences will enter the familiar setting of a retail establishment––with its display vitrines and wall-size photo backdrops––and encounter visual extravaganza akin to Cwynar’s photographs, complete with video monitors, pulley systems, conveyors, and other analog methods of transporting images. Cwynar will author an original script, delivered by the artist herself in a lecture-style performance, assembled from commercial jingles, theoretical tracts, and Internet slang. Through a stream of consciousness performance of different tasks leading to the construction of a new image, audiences will become both viewers and consumers.

Curated by Job Piston, Performa Associate Curator at Large

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Press Release

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Special limited edition print by artist Sara Cwynar to celebrate her Performa 2021 Biennial Commission is available here.

Performance Program









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Sahara from (As Young as You Feel) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist.


Sara Cwynar: Down at the Arcade is supported by Toby Devan Lewis, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Canada Council for the Arts.

Performer: Conor McShane and Tim Webb
Voice Actor: Paul Cooper


Dramaturg: Ariel Sibert
Technical Director: André Ferreira
Movement Director: Emily Maltby
Stage Manager: Taylor Suffridge
Assistant Stage Manager: Emily Pathman
Cinematographer: Wilson Cameron
Video: Kyle Harrigan
Sound: Vincent Dee
Music: Prokofiev and Prokofiev covered by Lydia Ainsworth

Associate Curator at Large: Job Piston
Managing Director & Executive Producer: Esa Nickle
Producer: Bob Kalas
Performa 2021 Biennial Fellow: Nectar Knuckles
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Portrait of Sara Cwyner

Photo by Aubrey Mayer

ABOUT Sara Cwynar

Sara Cwynar was born in 1985 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn. Cwynar studied English Literature at University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Design from York University and an MFA in Photography at Yale University. She completed an artist residency at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine. Recent solo exhibitions include: Glass Life, Foxy Production, New York; Source, Remai Modern, Saskatoon (2021); Gilded Age, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield (2019); Image Model Muse, Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN (2018); Soft Film, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2017). Forthcoming and group exhibitions include: Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Advertising, LACMA, Los Angeles (forthcoming); Don’t! Photography and the Art of Mistakes, SFMOMA, San Francisco (2019); To Our Parents, Bienal de São Paulo (2018). Her publications include Glass Life, Aperture Foundation (2021) and independently released Kitsch Encyclopedia (2014) and Pictures of Pictures (2014). Cwynar’s works are in the permanent collections of MoMA, NewYork; Guggenheim, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco; MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fondazione Prada, Milan.