Perspectives on Performance: Directory of Portrayals with Sahra Motalebi


Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 6:00pm


Farkas 203, 12 Holyoke Street, Cambridge

Perspectives on Performance


Sahra Motalebi (b. 1979) is a visual artist, composer and vocalist born in Birmingham Alabama. Often formatted as performance-exhibition, her work includes opera, scenographic installation, vocal composition and recordings, painting, sculpture, video and text. Motalebi's work has been exhibited and she has performed internationally at the Kitchen, SculptureCenter, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum Ludwig, Hydra School Projects, Watermill Center, the Villa Empain, MoMA PS1. In 2008 Motalebi’s multi-channel video installation and vocal performance “Such is the Game of Authenticity” was performed at MoMA PS1. Her shadow play “Intangible Heritages, Belief’s Demise” was presented at SculptureCenter in 2014 as part of In Practice. She performed “Sounds from Untitled Skies” at The Kitchen in New York on September 15, 2015. Motalebi will present a series of events, performances, and a book as part of an opera called "Rendering What Remains" over 2016 and 2017.


Motalebi has also contributed to collaborative projects with many contemporary artists, including the theater piece “I Will Be Last” with artist Kai Althoff in 2008 at the Vancouver Art Gallery and again with Althoff in two improvisational musical performances for Althoff’s solo show ''Punkt, Absatz, Blümli (period, paragraph, Bluemli)'' (2011) at Gladstone Gallery. Motalebi also performed with Anohni (as Antony & the Johnsons) in 2008 at the premier release of Another World EP at the former Clocktower Gallery. She created a score of sound pieces and vocal music and performed in ''Settlement House'', a four-hour, multi-space dance piece by Will Rawls at the Abrons Art Center in 2015. As part of a Performa 15 commission by artists Jesper Just and FOS, Motalebi performed as a solo improvisational vocalist in their installation "in the shadow/ of a spectacle/ is the view of the crowd". In 2016, Motalebi performed in a play called Love Life by Sibyl Kempson as part "12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens", a three year commission by Kempson for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Motalebi's soundtrack for Sophia Al-Maria's film “The Limerent Object” premiered at the Biennale of Moving Images 2016 at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Geneva.

In 2007 Motalebi co-founded the independent music label Static Recital on which she has released scores from her performances, five studio albums, and collaborations with other artists. Motalebi started the multipurpose production company { D I O R A M A } in 2010, and the nonprofit project Spoken Glass Productions in 2015, each to facilitate the realization of her larger interdisciplinary projects as well as those of others artists. In 2013, Motalebi produced and music directed Yves Klein’s ''Monotone Silence Symphony'' (1960) presented by Dominique Lévy and the Yves Klein Archives. She is a producer and consulting dramaturg for playwright Sibyl Kempson.


Motalebi studied classical vocal performance, and the history of art and architecture at Sarah Lawrence College. She attended the Master of Architecture Program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture focusing on the relationship between architecture and performance. She lives in New York.




2017 Songs for Temporary Structures 2001-2017

1 hour archive presentation
Asad Raza’s installation “Root sequence. Mother tongue” for the Whitney Biennial

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY


2017-2016 Rendering What Remains

opera including open rehearsals, staged performance, exhibitions and text

Watermill Center, Water Mill, NY

National Sawdust, Brooklyn, NY

Villa Empain, Brussels, Belgium


2015 Sounds from Untitled Skies

40 minutes, opera

The Kitchen, New York, NY

Hydra School Projects, Hydra, Greece

Crowley Theater, Marfa, TX


2014 Intangible Heritages, Belief’s Demise

20 minute performance, film
In Practice: Chance Motives curated by Kari Rittenbach

SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY


2013 Iterations (Concrete) I & II

vocal piece, dance performance and sound piece for four rooms

Dominique Lévy at Academy Mansion, New York, NY


2012 Ibex [diagrams for an empty stage],

video, vocal performance and installation,

Primetime and Know More Games, Brooklyn, NY


2011 3rds, Shards & Space,

sculpture installation and vocal performance,

Ofr, Paris, FR


2010 Spoken Glass,

sculpture installation and vocal performance,

Primetime, Brooklyn, NY


2009 Such is the Game of Authenticity

8-channel video installation and vocal performance
for Saturday Sessions, 100 Years (version #2, ps1, nov 2009), curated by Kate McNamara
MoMA P.S.1, Queens, NY


2008 I Will Be Last with Kai Althoff,

collaborative dance-theater performance,

Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC


2008 for Cleopatra’s Come On

vocal performance

Cleopatra’s, Brooklyn, NY


2008 Blankenship

vocal performance

for Get Weird performance series,

New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY


2008 Before the Tender Mortal Means

vocal performance

Clemente Soto Velez Theater, New York, NY


2006 Feeding the Ghosts

vocal performance

Hiro Ballroom at The Maritime Hotel, New York, NY




2016 Flesh, Format (EP, Static Recital)


2015 Sounds from Untitled Skies (EP, Static Recital)

recorded and mixed at Red Bull Studios New York


2014 Intangible Heritages, Belief’s Demise (EP, Static Recital)


2013 Iterations (Concrete) I & II - LIVE

featuring Matt Marinelli, Sam Greenleaf Miller Katy Pyle, Juri Onuki

Dominique Lévy at Academy Mansion, New York, NY


2011 - 2010 Spoken Glass (EP, Static Recital)

2010 Untitled - piano versions (EP, Static Recital)

arrangements by Jay Israelson

performance - installation Such is the Game of Authenticity at MoMA/PS1, Queens, NY.


2009 Migrators, video

performance & original music with Jay Israelson

Video directed by Colin Whitaker, premiere Interview Magazine Online.


2009 - 2008 Tender Mortal Means (EP, Static Recital)

performance - installation Such is the Game of Authenticity at MoMA/PS1, Queens, NY.


2008 - 2007 Pearling, video
performance & original music,

Video directed by Brett Milspaw.

Tender Mortal Means (EP, Static Recital)

2007 Blankenship (EP, Static Recital)

2006 Feeding the Ghosts (EP, Static Recital)





School of Curatorial Studies Venice

Venice, IT


2015 Only 2.5 hours from GWB

curated by Pia Dehne

Hamden Inn, Hamden, NY


2015 The Genuine Fake

curated by Dimitrios Antonitsis

Hydra School Projects, Hydra, Greece


2010 Survey: a group show,
curated by vPPR

vPPR, London, UK


2009 Cleopatra's: Trade Secrets,
curated by Cleopatra’s

John Connelly Presents, New York, NY


2009 Apartment Show #1,
curated by Joshua Smith

Apartment #1 Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY


2007 Cabin Fever: New Drawings,

Rivington Arms, New York, NY


2007 Underbite/Overbite,

curated by Darren Bader and Mirabelle Marden

Ritter Zamet, London, UK


2007 Wu/Googolplex,

curated by Darren Bader

Gavin Brown’s Enterprise/Passerby, New York, NY


2004 A Woman’s Work,

curated by Melissa Bent and Mirabelle Marden
Lower Eastside Girls Club,

New York, NY


2003 Be In,

Rivington Arms, New York, NY




2018 Directory of Portrayals: Presentation & Talk

With editor Annie Godfrey Larmon, Lumi Tan and Ruba Katrib

NYU 80 WSE Gallery

New York, NY


2017 Perspectives on Performance

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA


2017 The Kitchen L.A.B. Conference with Andrea Crespo, Tere O’Connor

Moderated discussion on “Position”

The Kitchen, New York, NY


2015 The Kitchen L.A.B. with Kevin Beasley and Moriah Evans

Moderated discussion on “Narrative”

The Kitchen, New York, NY


2014 selected as Global Outpost collaborator

Office US: The United States Pavilion, la Biennale di Venezia




2017 Meaning and Difference, A project by Darren Bader for the Power Station

Text, sound and object for 44 person participatory exhibition

Power Station, Dallas, TX


2016 The Limerent Object with Sophia Al-Maria

Soundtrack and performance for film by Al-Maria for the Biennale of Moving Images

The Centre of Contemporary Art, Geneva, Switzerland


2016 12 Shouts to the Ten Forgotten Heavens with Sibyl Kempson

performance for theater piece as part of the artists 12 play commission

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

2015 in the shadow / of a spectacle / is the view of the crowd with Jesper Just and FOS

vocal performance for multimedia installation | Performa 15

225 Liberty St, New York, NY


2015 Settlement House with Will Rawls

vocal performance and sound installation for a 4-hour choreography

Abrons Art Center, New York, NY

2014 Voice & Piano: Rehearsal for Fourteen Acts

vocal performance with pianist Jay Israelson

Manderley | McKittrick Hotel, New York, NY


2014 The Last Illusion one-act opera

adaptation, libretto and performance of a novel by Porochista Khakpour

performed Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, NY


2013 Music Direction & Production for

Yves Klein’s Monotone Silence Symphony

Dominique Lévy and the Yves Klein Archives

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY


2012 Life is God’s Musical: 4 Movements with Mariah Robertson

vocal sound piece and a cappella choral performance

for Art in Embassies 50th Year Celebration

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.


2011 collaborative closing performances
for Kai Althoff’s "Punkt, Absatz, Blümli (period, paragraph, Bluemli)"

Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY


2008 for Anohni (as Antony & the Johnsons)

performance for Another World EP Release,

P.S.1 Clocktower Gallery, New York, NY


2005 for Lansing Dreiden

L-D Section I, Seattle, WA, Austin, TX, New York, NY




2017 NYU’s 80WSE Gallery Artist’s Office

80WSE Gallery, New York, NY


2016 Prelude Festival NYC

Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY


2016 Watermill Residency

Watermill Residency Center, Water Mill, NY


2016 Habitacion at Villa Empain

Villa Empain, Fondation Boghossian, Brussels, Belgium


2015 Aurora Dallas

First United Methodist Church, Dallas, TX


2015 Foundation for Contemporary Arts EGrant
Foundations for Contemporary Arts, New York, NYC


2012 Primetime Residency

Primetime, Brooklyn, NY

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