Exhibition on view: February 13 - March 1, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 13, 6-9pm, with an opening night performance by Tamar Ettun’s Moving Company from 6:30 to 8:30pm
Gallery Talk: Sunday, February 16, 5pm
Still Acts is an exhibition that brings together artists engaged with stillness, stoppage, and slowing down in the context of performance. Artists featured in the exhibition – Sol Aramendi and Nicolás Dumit Estévez, Tamar Ettun, Brendan Fernandes, Liz Magic Laser, Jeanine Oleson, Clifford Owens, and Emily Roysdon – employ gestures that turn away, inward, and upward, upending our expectations for the continuity of dance compositions and lines of movement and thought. Still Acts considers what these unexpected ruptures might mean to both the artist and the viewer.
Inspired by André Lepecki’s writings on stillness, curators Ian Daniel and Sara Reisman are interested in Lepecki’s assertion that "what stillness does is to initiate the subject in a different relationship with temporality. Stillness operates at the level of the subject’s desire to invert a certain relationship with time, and with certain (prescribed) corporeal rhythms. Which means that to engage in stillness is to engage into different experiences of perceiving one’s own presence." Some of these experiences might include meditation, resistance, thought, changing speed, and rest.
Located along a spectrum between temporal ruptures and perceptions of one’s own presence, the artists featured in Still Acts slow down to reconsider their places in space and time. Repurposing the visual language of ballet and meditation, artists Brendan Fernandes and Tamar Ettun slow movement (in some cases to a long halt) to locate sites of activation in their performative poses and gestures. Fernandes’ The Working Move, 2012, connects performing art with visual art by staging scenes of dancers physically engaging with plinths that typically support sculptural objects in a gallery setting, questioning the value of human physical labor in the realm of art. Ettun’s Moving Company - a collaboration with dancers and actors Tyler Patterson, Tina Wang, Lyndsey Eugene, and Maia Karo - performs repetitive actions based on Ettun’s sculptures, many of which are cast objects, some referencing the body in form. Bound together, the performers in Ettun’s Moving Company make minimal but repetitive movements, drawing out time within a score to amplify the unstable nature of human relations and survival.
Two projects in the exhibition, one by Jeanine Oleson and the other by Sol Aramendi and Nicolás Dumit Estévez, emphasize the human and personal relationships we have to the landscape. Estévez is known for his project For Art’s Sake, a series of urban pilgrimages in which he sought to reverse the traditional relationship between art and religion, while part of Aramendi’s photography-based practice involves community portraiture. Their collaborative photographic project Napping/Siesta, 2010, might then be understood as a portrait of Estévez taking a break from his arduous journeys on foot between the five boroughs of New York City that he made for art’s sake. Situated in the sparse Arctic landscape, Jeanine Oleson’s The Shore Is Still in the Sea, 2012, questions our physical and personal relationship to ecology, landscape, and truth of images. The photographs take us to various locations surrounding the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, meditating on the stark contrast between the silent snowy landscape and neoliberal agendas surrounding the seed vault which is the subject of growing concern about government and corporate control of seed diversity.
Breaking through the fourth wall between audience and performers, Clifford Owens’ enactment of performance scores provided by other artists (as part of his ambitious project Anthology, 2011) calls out the tensions between choreographer, performer, participant, and audience. As a follow up to The Digital Face, 2012, Liz Magic Laser worked with dancer Ariel Freedman to stage the oratorical gestures from recent political speeches. Gesturing without speaking, the dancer turns away from her audience, and her movements correspond to a teleprompter displaying the script delivered by each politician being conjured in the performance, revealing the space between politician/performer and subject/audience. More precisely mapping out the dynamics of performative thought and action, Emily Roysdon’s Ecstatic Resistance, 2009-2010, diagrams and analyzes the interplay between intentionality and improvisation and what can be spoken and what is unspeakable in the process of staging a performance.
Together, the artists work with an economy of means to test the limits of performance - for the performer, the viewer, and the participant - provoking us to question how our own positions, whether still or in motion, connect to larger social and political concerns.
* André Lepecki, "Still: on the vibratile microscopy of dance" published in the book Re/membering the Body, Hortensia Völckers and Gabriele Brandstetter, eds., (Cantz Verlag, 2000)