esthermneff [at] gmail.com or panoplylab [at] gmail.com or eneff [at] gradcenter.cuny.edu

(significant forces of feeling…) 


Esther Neff is the founder and director of Panoply Performance Laboratory (PPL), a thinktank and flexible performance collective making operas of operations, performance art, and pursuing social forms of philosophical and theoretical inquiry.  PPL operates as work by Neff and collaborators and was a public lab site in Brooklyn, NY, 2012-2018. 

Neff is currently a PhD student at CUNY Graduate Center. Their texts have appeared in books including the Routledge Companion to Performance Philosophy (written with Yelena Gluzman), and the Palgrave Macmillan handbook on Queer and Trans Feminist Performance, in essay collections 7 Invitations, and States of Wake, and in journals and magazines including New Music Yearbook, cultbytes, culturebot, CAESURA, Peri0d, and PAJ, to name a few.

Neff is also a founding member of MARSH (Materializing & Activating Radical Social Habitus) in St. Louis, organizer of PERFORMANCY FORUM, and the instigator of Brooklyn International Performance Art Foundation.  Neff has also worked as a member of Feminist Art Group (FAG), Social Health Performance Club, and No Wave Performance Task Force (among other extant and extinct collectives).  Frequent collaborators include composer/digital artist Brian McCorkle (2004-2017 as co-director of PPL), Kaia Gilje (since 2014), Leili Huzaibah (since 2013), Maria Hupfield, Anja Ibsch, Teena Lange, IV Castellanos, Lindsey Drury (drearysomebody), Ayana Evans, Elizabeth Lamb and april vendetta (human trash dump), Edward G Sharp (future death toll), Valerie Kuehne, and many others.

Past and ongoing performance art work, operas, theoretical practices, and organizational projects have interfaced with and been supported by various institutions and organizations such as INVERSE (San Luis Obispo CA/Fayetteville AK, The Momentary), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC Swing Space), Brooklyn Arts Council, New York Foundation for the Arts (fiscal sponsorship), LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC LAB residency), University Settlement (residency), chashama (residency at 42nd Street, various spaces and situations), Chance House residency at John Cage Memorial Park, Culture Push (Honorary Fellowship for Utopian Practices with Yelena Gluzman), Foundation for Contemporary Arts (Emergency Grant) etc. Neff’s “performance art” (solo and in collaboration) has been involved in festivals including Experimental Action (Houston), WAKE (Folkestone, UK), Rapid Pulse (Chicago), Tempting Failure (London, UK), Art in Odd Places (NYC), Pittsburgh Performance Art Festival, Month of Performance Art Berlin, ITINERANT (NYC), and Hitparaden (Copenhagen, DK). Neff/PPL’s work has also been performed at/realized through/materialized in the context(s) of: Dixon Place, Abrons Arts Center, ISSUE Project Room, The New Museum, JACK, ABC No Rio, Flux Factory, Glasshouse, Danspace, Moynihan Station, Judson Church, Gathering of the Tribes, Bronx Museum, Grace Exhibition Space, IV Soldiers, English Kills, The Kitchen (to name a few in NYC), as well as [performance s p a c e] in London, Gruentaler9, HOCHHAUS, BLO Atelier, Theater ACUD, KuLe Theater and elsewhere in Berlin, Galerie KUB in Leipzig, Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art (Lansing, MI), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), No Nation (Chicago), Public Space 1 (Omaha), Spread Art (Detroit), University of Kentucky, Ohio State University, on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor, and across and through many “non art” sites (the street, libraries, banks, a baseball diamond, a bowling alley, gas stations, etc).

“Solo shows” and larger-scale socially-devised opera “productions” (“operas of operations”/”social opera-tion”) such as Heidegger’s Indiana (2020-2021), PROTAGONY (2019-2020), Embarrassed of the Whole (2015-2017), Any Size Mirror is a Dictator (2013-2015 with Lindsey Drury), NATURE FETISH (2012), The Transformational Grammar of the Institutional Glorybowl Trilogy (2008, 2010, 2011-2014), You’re A Big Boy Now OR Rauschenberg Ist Toedlich (2013-2014), The Silviculture Museum (2009) On the Cranial Nerves of Barbarians (2008) tend to be process-based and unfold over the course of several years. These operas-of-operations and social opera-tions have been performed at Grace Exhibition Space, Momenta Art, the cell, Salisbury University, Vital Joint, the Brick Theater (etc etc) as well as through processes, workshops, and other operations on tour/on the road (see Relational Marches Marooning and (MI)Rage ) and in different contexts and situations like the MAD Performance Philosophy conference, the Curating Performance Art as Artistic Practice conference in Berlin, during an exchange with Petrichor through the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, as a Visiting Artist workshop at MassArt, as part of the School of Making Thinking’s Words and […] conference, as part of youth programming at the public library in Three Rivers, Michigan, via operation as a band, and as experimental philosophy research.