5 Performers You Need to Know in 2016

You might want to get familiar with this list of up-and-coming performers because 2016 is going to be the year they break out.

by Emily Kirkpatrick
Feb 22 2016, 10:05pm

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Performance in 2016 is about drawing into question our understandings of reality, the world around us, and the roles we play within it. Breaking and creating new rules as they go, these five artists each subvert the status quo and help push their individual genres into exciting and uncharted territory. While the next big fad in the art world at large seems to be a move towards the digital realm, these performers are more interested in the exploration of human perception, relationships, and the binary codes of culture we’ve created that need to be systematically broken down and examined. Just remember when each of these artists hits it bigger than ever this year, you heard it here first.

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is the third-gender industrial musician behind bands like Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, but is probably best known for the project Pandrogeny, in which Genesis and h/er late wife Jacqueline Breyer (Lady Jaye) began to physically transform themselves into a singular person, a project the artist continues to perform as a means of creating a living eulogy to Jaye's memory. 2015 was a busy year for the artist who completed a European tour with Psychic TV, published a book of poetry, Bight of the Twin, and made a documentary with filmmaker Hazel Hill McCarthy III, but there’s still much more in store. P-Orridge currently has a painting on exhibit at 80WSE, a show coming up at Invisible Exports with Sarah Sitkin, an exhibition on the influences of Nepal and Benin, West Africa on P-Orridge’s works at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York slated for March 2016, and s/he just announced h/er collaboration with the much beloved non-gender, non-demographic label 69 Worldwide during NYFW.

Nastja Rönkkö & Luke Turner

By now, most people are familiar with Shia LaBeouf’s performance art antics—asking strangers to touch his soul via a hotline, marathoning his own films at the Angelika, and letting the Internet listen to his heartbeat. However, what most probably don’t know is that although visually centered around the actor, these projects are ideological collaborations with artists Nastja Rönkkö and Luke Turner. Turner is a London-based artist who explores the intersections between the physical and digital world, while Rönkkö throws herself into exercises that examine trust and human connectivity. Both artists see 2016 as “a return to sincerity and themes based on emotions can be seen in performance art.” Says Rönkkö, “I see this as an inevitable reaction to the particular environmental, political and economic crises of our times. People are tired and grossed out by destructive behavior towards each other and our planet, which is being reflected in a kind of shift in consciousness and sensibility.” Turner concurs: “I’m also looking forward to the shift towards sincerity, empathy and tenderness in the arts continuing to prevail. I truly hope we’ve seen the last of the tone-deaf institutional ‘conceptual’ performances we witnessed this past year, so vitally and dazzlingly called out by the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo and others. Instead, we might continue to be moved by performances that speak to our wider humanity amidst the myriad crises facing the world.” He concludes, “This is the art that hits.” And in terms of both their own work and work within the artistic community at large, Rönkkö insists, “I think interaction, intimacy, participation and connection are going to continue to be big in performance!”

Hari Nef


Hari Nef is not only the scene-stealing actress from season 2 of Transparent, she’s also a pioneering transgender model, writer, and social media phenomenon. When she’s not walking the runway for Gucci or penning thoughtful prose on the state of being trans in America, Nef is busy cracking deadpan jokes, posting killer selfies, and systematically dissecting cis-privilege on Twitter. 2016 looks poised to be the year the actress turns the corner from indie darling to major star as she continues to pursue acting full steam ahead with even more film projects coming up and a sky-rocketing modeling career that’s become increasingly high profile since booking editorials in Vogue, i-D, Paper, Candy, and Interview as well as landing the cover of Rollacoaster and Metal in 2015 alone.




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Junglepussy is at the forefront of a recent resurgence of talented female MCs that are innovating the rap community; an antidote to Iggy Azalea and other rappers-cum-pop stars that lack the same level of craft, rhythm, and depth. With the release of her second album Pregnant with Success, the Brooklyn-bred rapper has confirmed her status as heir apparent to Lil’ Kim’s feminist gangster rap throne, blending frank sexuality, with humor, politics, and a dash of Erykah Badu’s lyricism. She just dropped a music video on her site for her song “Spicy 103,” as well as announcing that she will be heading out on tour as support to Le1f next month. But in terms of the big picture of what we can expect in the year to come from the musician, no one says it better than Junglepussy herself: "2017 is gonna be a bad year to be whack in...haha j/k I scare myself to success. I'm never truly relaxed with all these visions on my ass but I find peace in creating, my hands weren't made for texting."

Brett Davis

Brett Davis is part-performance artist, part-comedian who seeks to “sneak profoundly weird stuff to huge audiences under the blanket of comedy” as the host of The Special Without Brett Davis, a constantly-evolving, absurdist live public access show that was born out of the ashes of The Chris Gethard Show. If you haven’t caught an episode yet, as Davis describes it, “the show changes formats, themes and talent every week. Sometimes it's a sitcom starring Richard Kind and Dracula, sometimes it's a marriage falling apart at dinner, and sometimes it's a panel of celebrities trapped in purgatory by a ventriloquist doll named Crimbo. We've had legit murderers on, as well as people like Rose McGowan and Michael Shannon.” In a recent Tumblr post, however, in a stunt worthy of his recent Andy Kaufman Award, Davis announced that he would be giving up The Special to former MTV VJ Jesse Camp in favor of pursuing other projects including numerous live shows booked around New York City and a web series coming to IFC that’s sure to take his off-beat brand of humor mainstream.

What performers are you looking forward to this year? Let us know @CreatorsProject or in the comments below. 


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