Performance art: Ryan McNamara

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 10:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 10:49pm


Ryan McNamara


Ryan Mcnamara has a short attention span. So the performance artist knows exactly how to engage his audience — by keeping himself engaged first.

“I’m an audience member as much as I am an artist. My brain has a hard time concentrating on one thing [at a time]. When I look at a painting, I also see the electrical outlet next to it, I listen to the conversation behind me, I check out the light fixtures. I attend to these aspects of the experience as well,” says McNamara. “I’m sure some could see this as overly controlling. I just see it as more opportunities.”

Recently a winner of the Malcolm McLaren Award for his Meem: A Story Ballet About The Internet at the Performa biennial in New York, McNamara was trained in photography but dabbled in sculpture and video. He is known for sitespecific performances that feature a thought-provoking blend of dance, theatre, pop culture and history and will be making his Hong Kong debut in Chai Wan on May 16.

Commissioned by Stephen and Yana Peel and coinciding with Art Basel and an open studio event called Chai Wan Mei, Score continues McNamara’s quest for choreographic spectacle. When asked to describe the show, he says it’s about a lot of things: virtuosity, spectacle, attention span, bodies. But the seemingly subtle title of the show turns out to be surprisingly self-explanatory.

“The term ‘score’ is used in performance as it is in music to describe the written form of the piece,” says McNamara. “In English, it can mean 20. It also brings to mind games. All three meanings will be referenced in the piece — 20 minutes, 20 performers, 20 performances.”

The performers will be a mix of New York-based and Hong Kong based performers.

The artist says he’s excited by the upcoming performance in a city he has only read about. “I’ve researched the history of Hong Kong, with a special interest in Hong Kong pop culture,” McNamara says. “While the concepts and structure of this piece may live on in future projects, Score in its current form will only be performed this one time.”


Asia One Tower, 8 Fung Yip Street, Chai Wan, May 16, 10pm. Free entry. Inquiries: 2540 6977