PLASMA — Performances, Lectures, and Screenings in Media Art

Media Artists include Tony Oursler, Jay Sanders, Kathrine Behar, Cynthia Hopkins, Alessandra Renzi, and Tony Cokes


Contacts: Teri Rueb, Tony Conrad, Paige Sarlin,,

Performances, Lectures, and Screenings in Media Art (PLASMA) is a new speakers series presented by the Department of Media Study and co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Department of Theater and Dance, the UB Technē Institute, and the UB Gender Institute. The series is open to the public and focuses on contemporary practices and discourses in media art and culture. The Spring line-Up includes:


Cynthia Hopkins is a multi-media performance artist, whose work combines new forms of theatrical narrative video and a documentary approach to address social issues through a deeply personal lens. Co-sponsored by the Department of Theater and Dance


Curator for the Whitney museum, Jay Sanders explores “the stuff between the cracks: the little-known limbos between art and dance, art and poetry, and art and music, all of which he has now helped bring to the Whitney.” Co-sponsored by the Department of English


“Tony Cokes works in video and multi-media installation. Juxtaposing re-edited broadcast and archival footage with quotations in the form of texts and voiceovers, Cokes’s experimental documentaries explore the ideological implications of media representation and rhetoric. His work foregrounds theoretical questions of racial and sexual difference, enunciation, and history.” Co-sponsored by the UB Techne Institute.


Katherine Behar “is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist whose performances, interactive installations, and videos mix low and high technologies to portray the condition of living sensuously in digital media.” Co-sponsored by the Techne Institute


Alessandra Renzi’s “interdisciplinary work explores the linkages and relays between media, art and activism through ethnographic studies and media art projects.” Co-sponsored by the UB Gender Institute

MAY 5: Tony Oursler

“Tony Oursler’s video and multimedia works take the form of a low-tech, expressionistic theater that is singular in contemporary art. Willfully primitive, often grotesque, and crafted with an ingenious handmade sensibility, his psychodramatic landscapes are fabricated within the ironic vernacular of pop culture. His idiosyncratic fictions are bizarre narrative odysseys through psychosexual delirium and the detritus and artifacts of mass culture.”

Cynthia Hopkins ( is an internationally acclaimed musical performance artist: she writes songs, records albums, and creates groundbreaking multi-media performance works that intertwine truth and fiction, blurring the lines between edification and entertainment. Through the process of making performances, she attempts to alchemize disturbance into works of intrigue and hope that simultaneously stimulate the senses, provoke emotion, and enliven the mind. She has produced five performance works – This Clement World (2013); The Truth: A Tragedy (2010); The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) (2009); Must Don’t Whip ‘Um (2007 Bessie Award for design); and Accidental Nostalgia (2005 Bessie Award for Creation) – and eight albums of original music: The Truth: A Tragedy (2010); The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) (2009); Must Don’t Whip ‘Um(2008); Accidental Nostalgia (2005); Alas Alack (2002); Devotionals (Songs for Shunkin) (2001); Hooker (2000); and Gloria Deluxe (1999). Her band Gloria Deluxe (1999-2009) developed an enthusiastic following for its unique blend of folk, cabaret, rock, blues and country music, producing multiple albums and performing hundreds of concerts, opening for legendary artists such as David Byrne and Patti Smith. Her work has been honored with many awards, including the 2007 Alpert Award in Theater and a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship. She is currently at work on A Living Documentary, an experimental piece exploring the challenges of earning one’s living as a theater artist in the 21st century, scheduled to premiere at commissioning venue New York Live Arts in early March 2014.

Jay Sanders is Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Recent exhibitions include Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama – Manhattan, 1970-1980 and Sarah Michelson: 4. With Elisabeth Sussman, he co-organized the Whitney Biennial 2012. Sanders has curated innumerable exhibitions, concerts, and events over the past decade including NUMINA lente, a three-evening music and performance festival presented at the Clemente Soto Velez Center (New York, 2011) and Looking Back: The Third White Columns Annual at White Columns (New York, 2008). Sanders has programmed performance, music, and film exhibitions at such venues as Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, the former Whitney branch at Altria, Sculpture Center, EAI, The Stone, Tonic, and for Performa. From 2005 – 2010, he was a Gallery Director at Greene Naftali in New York. He is a member of the collaborative performance group Grand Openings, and has staged large-scale events at MoMA, the Bumbershoot Festival (Seattle), MUMOK (Vienna), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (Japan), and Anthology Film Archives for Performa 05 (New York). He has worked extensively with Tony Conrad on exhibitions and publications, produced and edited a DVD on the work of theater artist Richard Foreman, published a book of Jack Smith’s drawings, and co-edited, with poet Charles Bernstein, the seminal catalogue Poetry Plastique to accompany their 2001 exhibition by the same name at Marianne Boesky Gallery, where Sanders was a Gallery Director from 2000 to 2005. Sanders has written extensively for Artforum, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst, BOMB and other publications.

Tony Cokes makes video and installation works that reframe appropriated texts to reflect upon capitalism, subjectivity, mediation, knowledge, and pleasure. Sound always functions as a crucial, intertextual element, complicating minimal visuals. Cokes’ works have been exhibited internationally at venues including Centre Georges Pompidou; Museum of Modern Art, NY; MACBA, Barcelona, Spain; SF MOMA, San Francisco; ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; and La Cinémathèque Française. He has been included in notable exhibitions such as the 1st Berlin Documentary Forum, House of World Cultures in Berlin (2010); the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2002, 1991); Documenta X in Kassel, Germany (1997); and Our Literal Speed, University of Chicago (2009). Cokes has participated in numerous media-art festivals including Freewaves in Los Angeles; the Rotterdam International Film Festival in Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid; and the Oberhausen Short Film Festival in Oberhausen, Germany. He has received fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Creative Capital, and Getty Research Institute. His recent installation projects at REDCAT, Los Angeles (2012), and Rotterdam International Film Festival (2013) presented different iterations of the three major series in his practice over the previous fifteen years. Each series frames a theme: Sound (Pop Manifestos and their aftermath); Criticism (The Art Critique Series); and Terror (The Evil Series). Cokes is a Professor in Media Production and former Director of Undergraduate Studies in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. He lives in Providence, RI.

Katherine Behar is a New York-based interdisciplinary artist whose performances, interactive installations, and videos mix low and high technologies to portray the condition of living sensuously in digital media. Behar’s work appears at festivals, galleries, performance spaces, and art centers worldwide, including the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Judson Church in New York; UNOACTU in Dresden; The Girls Club Collection in Miami; Feldman Gallery + Project Space in Portland; De Balie Centre for Culture and Politics in Amsterdam; the Mediations Biennale in Poznan; the Chicago Cultural Center; the Swiss Institute in Rome; the National Museum of Art in Cluj-Napoca; and many others. Her work has been supported through residencies including The MacDowell Colony, Cannonball, Wassaic Project, and 7.stock; fellowships from Art Journal and the Rubin Museum of Art; and grants including the Franklin Furnace Fund, the U.S. Consulate General in Leipzig, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Featured Performance Award from the Cleveland Performance Art Festival. Her ongoing projects include two collaborations, the performance art group Disorientalism, with Marianne M. Kim, and the art and technology team Resynplement, with Ben Chang and Silvia Ruzanka. Behar’s writings on technology and culture have been published in LateralMedia-NParsons Journal for Information MappingVisual Communication QuarterlyEXTENSIONS: The Online Journal for Embodied Technology, among others. She is currently working on an exhibition catalogue for And Another Thing, the 2011 exhibition she co-curated with Emmy Mikelson at The James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York, forthcoming from Punctum Books. She is Assistant Professor of New Media at Baruch College.

Alessandra Renzi is assistant professor in Emergent Media for the Department of Art + Design and for the Program in Media and Screen Studies at Northeastern University. Her interdisciplinary work explores the linkages between media, art and activism through ethnographic studies and media art projects. Her interests have led her to be part of, and study, pirate television networks in Italy and to investigate the surveillance of social movements in Canada. Her book Infrastructure Critical: Sacrifice at Toronto’s G8/G20 Summit,co-authored with Greg Elmer, was published in 2012. As part of her past research on surveillance and dissent she co-produced the documentary Preempting Dissent: Policing the Crisis, a collaborative, open source project incorporating footage crowd-sourced through media activist networks. Alessandra’s community media art interventions interrogate and build upon the habits and practices that emerge in connection with social media technologies. She is the co-creator with Roberta Buiani of Activism beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, an artivist project located at the intersection between face-to-face and interface. This work has been featured internationally in venues like the Transmediale Festival in Berlin, the Hemispheric Institute’s Encuentro in Sao Paulo and the Queens Museum of Art. Her current research and artivist work focus on the design and socio-cultural impact of participatory networks and social media platforms for collaboration.

Tony Oursler was born in New York in 1957. He completed a BA in fine arts at the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, California in 1979. His art covers a range of mediums working with video, sculpture, installation, performance and painting. Oursler’s work has been exhibited in prestigious institutions including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Documenta VIII, IX, Kassel, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Skulptur Projekte, Munster, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, the tate, Liverpool. The artist currently lives and works in New York City.