ART/LIFE INSTITUTE, KINGSTON NY
NON GRATA GROUP!
NON GRATA GROUP
With smoke and fire, blowtorches and red-hot cattle brands, Non Grata has emerged from Estonia as one of the most audacious and evolving performance art groups to regularly come to and perform in the United States. From last month through the end of this one, the group has been guest curating a series of events at Grace Exhibition Space, showing off many talented American performance artists while also giving spectators a view of some of the raw and audacious performance work that Eastern Europe has to offer.
Led by Al Paldrok, whose pseudonym in the group is Anonymous Boh, Non Grata began in 1998, just four years after Estonia gained its independence from the Soviet Union. Taking its name from the phrase persona non grata, meaning “an unwelcome person,” the group first started as an alternative art academy called Academia Non Grata. Now they travel the world practicing performance art with a revolving set of members that has, over the years, totaled up to five hundred different individuals.
“Academia Non Grata was created for one purpose, [to be] a counterbalance to the bend-over attitude of the art world, which was dominated by the Yankee-style capitalism in our society,” said Paldrok. “Artists have become either the ones who satisfy society’s certain aesthetic needs, small-scale entrepreneurs producing pretty things, or society’s fools, officially labelled as the opponent.”
Often the value of art is in offering nontraditional strategies that one can put to use in everyday life. An artist attempts to improve the world. The aim of the Academia Non Grata was and still is to create an atmosphere in which people feel free to ask themselves and others, “What is it that I really think? What is it that I really want?”The Raw Side of Performance Art by David LaGaccia on November 22, 2012