As Far As I Could Get is a series of photographs made by John Divola in 1996/97. He pushed a self-timer button on his camera and ran as fast as he could to get away from it. The exposure time was 10 seconds. This project offers a different take on the role of walking/ running within an artistic practice and also speaks to the limits of time when it comes to realization of a complete idea. You can only get as far as you can get. It reminds me of a Steven Wright quote: “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.”
I went hiking his weekend and found myself making up stories about the people I passed on the trail based on if and how they said hello to me. When I hike solo, I sometimes feel extra vigilant about having a read on my surroundings, dividing people I pass into (1) those who might help me if I was in trouble and later become my friend and (2) those that wouldn’t. I wonder how accurate I really am about this given I have so little information to go off of, which reminded me of Miranda July’s story of a silent retreat she went on.
In the video, she talks about how she felt extreme attraction to a woman on the retreat. July constructed a story and fantasized mind about this woman’s likeness having never made eye contact, heard her voice, or interacted with her aside from sitting behind her. July was proven entirely off base when the limitations of the retreat were revoked and the woman returned to her everyday being. Lena Dunham, who was giving the interview, sums up July’s experience: “If you want it badly enough, you can mistake anyone for someone you could love.”
The unofficially official Towson MFA Youtube channel is live AND we posted our first video! We had all hands on deck for a Jesse-led exercise moving through “a day at the office”.
A pensive shot for a pensive day thinking about how to guide an audience through a performative experience using Towson’s campus as a backdrop. What I’m wondering is how to give this seemingly boring, unsexy location new life by looking at its past lives and navigating the present. I have this bad habit of often overlooking my immediate surroundings in favor of the flashy, fresh, new thing (see Grass is Greener Syndrome). What is it like to stay put for a while and really take in what’s going on here?
The model on the table is a rough construction of one of the most intriguing sites on campus (to me) re-imagined as a battlefield processional complete with rope bridge. In the photo, I’m probably explaining one of the my many ideas for sectioning off space giving the audience a choice between different paths to take.
The business of mapping paths begins! I’ve already downloaded the Map My Run app and have brushed up on my navigational skills through Staying Found, the complete compass and map handbook by June Fleming.
Navigational tips? Leave them in the comments!
Two things: First one is news that I’m working with my fellow cohort member Lindsey Griffith to create videos, maintain, and update the unofficially official Instagram and YouTube channel for Towson’s MFA Theatre program. You will notice that not much information has been added to these places just yet, but a blank page is always a great place to start. Stay tuned for some really great updates from Brecht, Gertrude Stein, and the rest of the cohort!
Second thing is a video of site-specific choreography by Aline David. As I continue to think about site in my own work, I’ve noticed that many examples I’ve found have documented performances specifically for video. This one below is no exception as it utilizes jump cuts and helps situate the audience firmly in a viewing area. Although the intent to video tape is clear, it still feels as though I’ve walked in on something a bit more private, almost as though she’s not performing for the audience but for the space itself.
“What you see is what you see.” —Frank Stella
Arena is a performance choreographed by Madeline Hollander, which is comprised of a series of duets scored for 6 dancers and a beach rake truck. The beach rakes clear the path for the dancers whose movement patterns are recorded in the newly combed sand. In the first half of the performance, the dancers follow the truck. In the second half, the truck follows the dancers, effectively erasing all traces of movement as they go. These actions are repeated from 6pm until the sun goes down. The piece was presented as part of the Beach Sessions Dance Series on Rockaway Beach in Queens.
The initial concept for the piece reminds me of Richard Long’s A Line Made By Walking in that what is left behind is the trace of movements in the space. That the act of occupying the space transformed it in a subtle way. However, Arena marks and then erases the dancers existence and claims to the space by continually raking over the tracks. What’s really striking about this piece is the ephemeral quality of the movement documentation in the sand, which is true of every sand castle and message I’ve ever carved at the beach. Also, I’m struck by the durational and repetitive quality of the piece as this has been a direction suggested in feedback for my own work in progress.
Madeline Hollander is a New York based artist who works primarily with performance and video to explore how human movement and body-language negotiate their limits within everyday systems of technology, intellectual property law, and mass-culture.
Photography by Samantha Casolori; Film stills by Sam Fleischner