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Benjamin Patterson
A Penny for Your Thoughts

Saturday, November 16, 2013
2:45 PM
14th Street Passage, On the High Line at West 14th Street
Free admission |  All ages | No RSVP Required

Benjamin Patterson’s new work A Penny for Your Thoughts promotes an exchange between artist and viewer in which the artist offers participants hats constructed from newspapers in exchange for an idea, imbuing the performance with a type of humor common to many Fluxus projects.

Patterson’s performance is a part of Three Duets, Seven Variations, a special series for the Performa 13 biennial, pairing six inter-generational artists for seven programs. This program is organized by Adrienne Edwards, Performa, and Thomas J. Lax, The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Photos by Liz Ligon.

Benjamin Patterson

Benjamin Patterson (b. 1934, Pittsburgh, PA) lives and works in Wiesbaden, Germany. Patterson is a canonical figure in the genesis and history of black performance art. He is a classically trained musician and composer who is best known as a founding member of Fluxus, an avant-garde and experimental group born out of the innovation and creative expression of the early 1960s.  Fluxus began with a loose-knit, cross-pollination of artists based in New York, Los Angeles, and Western Europe. Patterson embodies the ideologies and artistic practices of the collective which combines music, visual arts and performance. His iconic works include Paper Piece (1960) and Variations on Double Bass (1961).

Program Partner

The performance of A Penny for Your Thoughts was co-organized by the Grey Art Gallery, NYU; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and Performa as part of the New York debut of the exhibition Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art initially curated by Valerie Cassel Oliver for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. This landmark exhibition approaches black performance from the perspective of the visual arts, beginning with the “happenings” of the early 1960s and into the contemporary practices of a new generation of artists. As a counterpart to the exhibition, the Grey Art Gallery and Studio Museum in Harlem paired with Performa 13, New York’s celebrated performance-art biennial (November 1 – 24, 2013), to produce a series of special performances, including Benjamin Patterson’s A Penny for Your Thoughts on the High Line.


High Line Art is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. High Line Art is made possible by Donald R. Mullen, Jr. and The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, with additional support from David Zwirner Gallery, and Vital Projects Fund, Inc. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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