Famed Performance Space Curator to Retire

Alanna Heiss founded P.S.1 in 1971

The founding director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, an exhibition and art performance space that helped launch the careers of such artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Donald Judd, is retiring this week.

Alanna Heiss founded P.S.1 in 1971 in an old public school building in Long Island City, Queens, as a space for large-scale visual and performing art works of established and emerging contemporary artists. In 1999, P.S. 1 formed an affiliation with the Museum of Modern Art, resulting in collaborations with the Manhattan-based institution.

Heiss, who is retiring on Wednesday, plans to launch Art International Radio in 2009, which will feature conversations with artists, curators and academics.

Heiss originally founded P.S. 1 with the mission of organizing exhibitions in underused and abandoned spaces in New York City. Today it's considered one of the most respected exhibition spaces in the city.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, it became a venue for video and performance art, including performances by Gordon Matta-Clark and Dennis Oppenheim. It later expanded to include dance, film and music.

Each summer, P.S. 1 presents experimental musicians and DJs. Its annual Young Architects Program, in collaboration with MoMA, awards commissions to young architects for projects in P.S. 1's courtyard.

A search committee will begin looking for a new director early next year.

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