I have been working with squares, specifically taped squares, since this summer and recently happened upon Declared Void (2005) by Carey Young, showing once again the extraordinary possibility in the form. Here, Young creates spatial divisions to arrive at the complexities of positioning in public space. The instructions transform the sectioned off space from anyplace, anywhere gallery to political zone (almost using the idea of the “white cube” against the gallery itself). It also provides a decision point of interaction for the viewer.
A large group of people (thirty to eighty-four) walk from stage right to stage left, stopping to stand or sit according to a written score, demonstrating another way to think about walking and celebration of pedestrian movement. Jill Johnston wrote of the 1968 version of the piece that she was impressed with the assortment of bodies. “The fat, the skinny, the medium, the slouched and slumped, the straight and tall, the bowlegged and knock-kneed, the awkward, the elegant, the coarse, the delicate, the pregnant, the virginal, the you name it, by implication every postural possibility in the postural spectrum, that’s you and me in all our ordinary everyday who cares postural splendor.”
A few ideas from the first chapters of A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros
“Because the city-dweller tends spontaneously to interpret such activity [walking] in terms of deprivation, whereas the walker considers it a liberation to be disentangled from the web of exchange, no longer reduced to a junction in the network of redistributing information, images and goods; to see that these things have only the reality and importance you give them.”
Walking liberates you from time and space.
“…by walking you are not going to meet yourself. By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history.”
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.”
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