THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON

Press release


ICA marks 75th anniversary with major new exhibition Dance/Draw

Exhibition includes work by 48 artists; programs by Trisha Brown Dance Company, Liz Collins, Jérôme Bel, Trajal Harrell, Sarah Sze, Paul Chan and William Forsythe

(BOSTON – Sept. 15, 2011) On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents Dance/Draw, an ambitious thematic show tracing the journey of the line from changes in drawing in the 1960s to its explosion off the page and into three-dimensional space—ultimately finding itself in the realm of dance. In particular, this exhibition investigates the connections between visual art and dance over the past 50 years, culminating in the exploration of a new generation of artists deeply interested in dance. Organized by ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth, Dance/Draw features approximately 100 works—including video, photography, drawings and sculptural objects as well as a series of live performances in the galleries and theater. Dance/Draw is on view at the ICA from Oct. 7, 2011 – Jan. 16, 2012. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is proud to be the Celebration Sponsor for the ICA 75th Birthday.

“Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has championed creativity in all its forms—visual art, performance, music, film and video—and supported the artistic impulse to shift boundaries, challenge convention, and explore new forms of expression. As early as 1938, the ICA’s seminal exhibition Picasso-Matisse included a performance by the artists and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo,” says Jill Medvedow, director of the ICA. “Now, as we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we see the exchange between visual art and performance return with new creative force and vitality. Dance/Draw presents an unprecedented synergy between the galleries and the stage, filling the entire museum with extraordinary works of art that explore the rich terrain of line and movement in contemporary art—and the fundamental, persistent desire to draw and to dance.”

 “Dancing and drawing are forms of creativity that we are encouraged to participate in freely as children, but that many of us progressively withdraw from as we grow older, more self-conscious of our bodies, and increasingly self-critical of our skills,” says Molesworth. “Many of the artists in Dance/Draw seek to reconnect themselves and viewers with what might be called an everyday creativity. Through works that heighten our own sense of physical awareness, we recall the stimulation and sheer physical joy inherent in these early forms of expression.”

Art since 1960 largely left behind clear distinctions between mediums, as artists began to use whatever means they desired to express their interests and ideas. What appears to have remained constant, however, is the necessity of the line as a fundamental building block of the visual experience. Just as artists exploded outside the boundaries between mediums, the traditional line of drawing migrated off the page and into space. Similarly, the classical comportment of dance shifted away from the ballet and theater stage, instead incorporating everyday movements frequently performed in non-traditional sites. While this tendency is sometimes referred to as the “deskilling” of art, many artists felt they were democratizing both the process of making and looking at art by allowing it to be made with everyday materials and gestures. Dance/Draw explores how these developments in visual art and dance began, and how they have shaped the art of today.

The exhibition is divided into four sections, beginning with “More Than Just the Hand.” This section shows the new and often very bodily ways in which drawings began to be made. Janine Antoni uses her eyelashes and mascara; Trisha Brown makes drawings with her feet; John Cage uses plants and seaweed; David Hammons uses a basketball and dirt; Mona Hatoum uses human hair. Each artist in this section imagines that their entire body is capable of making a drawing, and in doing so the drawings share the feeling of being autonomous works as well as documents of the performances required to make them. This reliance upon and use of performance links these works, both implicitly and explicitly, to the realm of dance.

“The Line in Space” collects works that extend the concept of the line into three dimensions. Many of the works in this section use thread, string, or wire as a literal manifestation of the line. Ruth Asawa crochets wire to make bulbous hanging sculptures that evoke the human form; Liz Collins uses knitting machines to create performance-based installations (see performance dates below); Eva Hesse covers string in papier-mâché, extends it off the canvas and attaches it to an adjoining wall; and Faith Wilding crochets fiber to create a room. In the Poss Family Mediatheque overlooking Boston Harbor, Cecilia Vicuña suspends a web of woven thread from the ceiling while monitors below display imagery of bodies of water familiar to the artist. Typically, art history has discussed these works in relation to “women’s work” and “craft” due to their use of traditional modes of needlework and because the artists were women. Dance/Draw suggests instead that we see the use of fiber and wire, as well as traditional techniques like knitting and crocheting, in relation to historical concerns with line. This section of the exhibition also includes ongoing live performances of Trisha Brown’s Floor of the Forest  (see performance dates below).

The third section, “Dancing,” explores dance as it has been understood by both postmodern choreographers and contemporary visual artists. Charles Atlas’s “portrait” of choreographer Yvonne Rainer humorously frames her legendary challenge to traditional modern dance; Jérôme Bel’s Véronique Doisneau, 2005, bravely demystifies the ballet; Babette Mangolte’s photographs and films of Judson dancers Trisha Brown and Lucinda Childs show us the dancing body, in its entirety, rigorously defining itself as a line in space. “Visual” artist Klara Liden bursts into a dance performance on the public transit system as a way to destabilize public decorum; Juan Capistran’s break dancing in the museum similarly engages dance to defy protocols of normative behavior; Senam Okudzeto uses dance to investigate the social and political differences between Western Europe and West Africa; and Igor Grubić uses dance as a mode of restaging traumatic historical events. In this section an interesting distinction between visual artists and dancers emerges; dance is frequently used as a narrative device in the visual arts, whereas bodily and spatial issues appear to be of more interest to choreographers.

Finally, the section “Drawing” returns to drawing and a generation of younger artists for whom movement, performance, and drawing are ineluctably mixed. Here we see visual artists interested in the relationship between the performing body and drawing. For instance, Fiona Banner copies the covers of life-drawing manuals, in which the figure often appears to be in flight; Silke Otto Knapp hauntingly traces photographic images of dancers onto luminous silver-painted canvases; and the Friends of Fine Arts (FFARTS), a group of artists who meet bi-monthly to teach themselves life-drawing, pose for one another in ways that are highly performative and staged, a nod to the hidden or secret histories and stories that must pervade the centuries of relations between artists and their live models. Helena Almeida draws, but has herself photographed while doing so, making her performing body and the drawing equivalent to one another; and William Forsythe imagines his dancing body as a series of drawn lines, making clear the ways in which dance and drawing emanate from the same source.

Major support for this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Ronald and Ronni Casty, the HBB Foundation, and Jacqueline Bernat and Adam Hetnarski.

Catalogue
Dance/Draw is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Hatje Cantz. The catalogue includes a conversation between the artist Paul Chan and curator Helen Molesworth; individual catalogue entries on each artist in the exhibition; as well as essays by Molesworth, Harvard University art historian Carrie Lambert-Beatty, and artist and critic Catherine Lord. $32.40 members, $36 nonmembers.

Press preview
A press preview will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 9:30 am. RSVP to Colette Randall at crandall@icaboston.org or 617-478-3181.

Performance and programs presented in conjunction with Dance/Draw

Trisha Brown Dance Company
Floor of the Forest
Ongoing Oct. 7, 2011–Jan.16, 2012
Thursdays 6 pm, 7 pm & 8 pm; Saturdays and Sundays 1 pm, 3 pm, & 4 pm
Presented in the Dance/Draw galleries, Trisha Brown’s Floor of the Forest—part sculpture, part dance prop, part performance—features a 12 x 14–foot steel pipe frame across which ropes are tied and densely threaded with used clothing. Within the structure two dancers wend and weave, literally dressing and undressing their way through the sculpture. Each performance is subject to chance, allowing the individuality of each dancer who performs it to determine their movements, meaning no two performances are ever the same. Tickets: Free with museum admission.

Please note: Visitors who come to the ICA on a day when Floor of the Forest is not being performed will be given a special Floor of the Forest admissions ticket to gain entry on a performance day. This ticket must be presented at the front desk. One ticket per visitor.

Liz Collins: Knitting Nation

Phase 7: Darkness Descends (Sunday, Oct. 16, 11 am – 5 pm)
Phase 8: Under Construction (Friday, Nov 25, 11 am – 9 pm)

Liz Collins brings her “army” of volunteers to the ICA for two live performances of Knitting Nation, Phase 7: Darkness Descends and Phase 8: Under Construction. In these performances, groups of knitters wearing costumes designed by Collins use manually-operated knitting machines to create a site–specific installation. Collins exploits the material properties of yarn, transforming it from yarn to line, from thread to material, from both line and material into planes of color. Her use of live performance means that these transformations happen in real time and are seen to be the result of laboring human bodies. Her performances intimate that creativity in art and fashion share many of the same principles, prime among them a reliance on the body as a site of both labor and display, and the use of the line to delimit and explore the boundaries of both the body and performance.  Tickets: Free with museum admission

In Conversation
Pas de Trois: Paul Chan and William Forsythe with Helen Molesworth

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 6:30 pm
In the 21st century, artists are crossing every imaginable boundary and looking to all artistic forms for inspiration. Visual artists are creating live performances; dancers are making installation and sculpture. In conjunction with the exhibition Dance/Draw, renowned choreographer William Forsythe and acclaimed artist Paul Chan will discuss this intersection of performance and art in a conversation moderated by ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth. Tickets:$15 members and students; $18 nonmembers
 
Jérôme Bel
Cédric Andrieux
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5, 7:30 pm
Sunday, Nov. 6, 2 pm

Continuing Jérôme Bel’s suite of staged dancer portraits (see also a video of Véronique Doisneau in the exhibition Dance/Draw), Cédric Andrieux is a solo for the French dancer. From his early training in Paris to his eight years working with Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Andrieux has lived the recent history of contemporary dance. Through his movements, Andrieux illustrates his memories with excerpts from works by Cunningham, Trisha Brown, and Bel as he spins the story of his own life. Together, Bel and Andrieux create a vivid portrait of what it means to be a dancer today. Tickets: $18 members and students, $20 nonmembers

This performance received support from the Cultural Offices of the French Embassy and the  Consulate General of France in Boston.

Trisha Brown Dance Company
Works from 1978 to 2011
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 13, 2 p.m.

Founded in 1970 when Trisha Brown branched out from the experimental Judson Dance Theater to work with her own group of dancers, TBDC offered its first performances at alternative sites in Manhattan’s SoHo. Today, the Company is regularly seen in the landmark opera houses of New York, Paris, London, and many other theaters around the world. In conjunction with the exhibition Dance/Draw, the Company returns to Boston for the first time in over a decade with a survey of works spanning their history including: Watermotor (1978), Opal Loop (1980), Foray Forêt (1990), and Les Yeux et l’âme (2011). Tickets: $45 members and students, $50 nonmembers

Trajal Harrell and Sarah Sze
The Untitled Still Life Collection
– WORLD PREMIERE
Friday, Nov. 18, 6:30 and 8 pm
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, 1 and 3 pm

The dynamic exchange between visual art and performance takes center stage in The Untitled Still Life Collection, a new work by choreographer/dancer Trajal Harrell and the sculptor Sarah Sze. Harrell and Sze began work on this performance one year ago during a residency at the ICA. Still under construction as of this writing, this world premiere performance promises a one-of-a-kind integration between object and body, space and movement, time and timelessness. Tickets: Free with museum admission  

Commissioned and presented as part of Co Lab: Process and Performance, an ongoing joint project of the ICA and Summer Stages Dance at Concord Academy.

Click here for a slideshow of exhibition images as well as additional related programs

About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for 75 years. Like its iconic building on Boston's waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The ICA, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am - 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am - 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm. Admission is $15 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. ICA Free Admission for Youth is sponsored by State Street Foundation. Free admission on ICA Free Thursday Nights, 5 - 9 pm. Free admission for families (2 adults + children 12 and under) on last Saturday of the month. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at www.icaboston.org.

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