MOCA has a long and rich history with performance. The very first program the museum presented when The Temporary Contemporary (now The Geffen Contemporary) opened in 1983 was a dance work by Lucinda Childs called Available Light. It featured set design by Frank Gehry and a score by John Adams. It was an auspicious beginning for a museum that would come to pride itself on experimentation.
Since then, an extremely wide range of programs—all somehow related to this word performance—have appeared at MOCA, including works by: Mike Kelley, Meredith Monk, Michael Smith, Eric Bogosian, the Squat Theater, The Wooster Group, Karen Finley, Wallace Shawn, William Leavitt, Peter Sellars, and Chris & Cosey. Reading series have included such illustrious writers as: William T. Vollmann, Sherman Alexie, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, Wanda Coleman, Adrienne Rich, and Harryette Mullen. On a more pop tip, the museum has hosted such notables as Grandmaster Flash, Santigold, X, Diplo, Blonde Redhead, and the Dead Kennedys.
Even though MOCA does not have a department devoted to performance—the museum has never had medium-specific departments as such—we have always assumed that contemporary art touches everything. Indeed, to be contemporary, to do justice to the innovations and experiments of art, MOCA has always sought to present culture in the broadest sense.
[PHOTOS: Available Light, 1983; Explorations I, 1983; Summer 1985: Nine Artists, 1985; Reno Enraged, 1990; Action Occupation, 1995; Live Sprawl, 2008. The Temporary Contemporary/The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.]