I enjoyed the Programmed show at the Whitney and it was interesting to explore this work within the context of what we have been looking at and discussing in class. That said, I personally find much of this work difficult to engage with initially. I often feel that I can’t easily access the intention of the artist and that it doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically. I think I had a better experience this time because I enjoyed talking to classmates about pieces, questioning their processes, motives and designs. It also seems to me that this is still such a new field in terms of mainstream cultural understanding — I am thinking of the disconnect when I talk to film industry and artistic contacts outside of academia.
My favorite piece was Dance by Lucinda Childs, Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt (1979). It was a collaboration between the three artists, each in using their own medium — Childs, dance; Glass, music; LeWitt, film. Each element was precisely created with a specific set of rules. Combined, they create an incredibly beautiful and cohesive piece that is meditative and transcendent. Childs’ drawings are projected on the floor and in colored squares that match the lighting design for each part of the dance, shown in the video.
I am curious why it is called Dance. In some ways, dance is much more descriptive of a wider range of forms than “music” or “film” which have technical and physical requirements in addition to their human makers whereas “dance” is entirely human. This concept is something that the piece plays with as well, where human becomes a set of repeated rules.
I also loved how the piece was curated. I sat on the bench and watched the video for about 15 minutes. I liked the floor projections though I was unable to connect the dance to the grid. Still, I felt the pattern and precision and the combined effect of each component was a lovely experience. I was entranced.
In this video from the Walker Art Center, the Childs and Glass discuss the piece. I love they way they discuss their collaboration, how it they started truly from the beginning and were able to create from a place of deep trust. It’s a beautiful collaboration and I think that is felt in the wholeness of the piece also. They also talk about “overthrowing the narrative” and how story took away from the piece.
In my work, I am also interested in new ways of collaborating and also abandoning narrative structure for something that is more about texture, feel, sense. This piece was inspiring.