Michael Portnoy is a New York-based artist. Coming from a background in dance and stand-up comedy, his performance-based work employs a variety of media: from participatory installations to sculpture, painting, writing, theatre, video and curating.

Portnoy is largely concerned with manipulating language and behaviour as a tool for world-bending – either in his “Relational Stalinist” game structures in which confusion, complication, and ambiguity are used to stretch participants’ speech and movement; or his quest to “improve” existing breeds of art through re-engineering.

At Liverpool Biennial 2016, Portnoy’s
Relational Stalinism – The Musical was an assemblage that used many different registers of performance simultaneously. It mixed taiko micro-dance, exhausting feats of reading, experimental physical comedy, melodramatic operatic interlude, call-centre language-torture games, and satire of the Immaterial Turn. The performance on 9 July at the Black-E was part of the Chinatown episode.

He has presented internationally in museums, art galleries, theatres and music halls, including recently the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2014); Cricoteka, Krakow, Poland (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2013); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2013); The Kitchen, New York, USA (2013); dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); 11th Baltic Triennial (co-curator), Vilnius, Lithuania (2012); and the Taipei Biennial, Taipei, Taiwan (2010).

Michael Portnoy at Liverpool Biennial 2016

Relational Stalinism – The Musical, 2015

Commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, together with A.P.E (Art Projects Era)

Performed at the Black-E on 9 July 2016