The William Forsythe Exhibition at the ICA

by the-biennial-project 9. February 2019 10:34

by Emily Dugie and Mark Hoffman

Q: So Emily, we hear there's a cool new show at the Institute of Contemporary Art here in Beantown. Have you seen it yet?

A: The William Forsythe Exhibition? I have! It was so incredible; I've gone back to see it twice.

Q. Wow Emily - you are truly impressive! We consider it an accomplishment to get to the good shows here once - twice is setting the bar pretty high. The ICA says about this exhibit that "Forsythe has developed installations, sculptures, and films that he calls Choreographic Objects. Blurring the lines between performance, sculpture, and installation, his Choreographic Objects invite the viewer to engage with the fundamental ideas of choreography." I have to admit that while I think dance is beautiful and all, I have no idea whatsoever what the fundamental ideas of choreography might be. Can you tell us some of your impression of the show?


A: I have never been a dancer, and my only preconception of choreography itself is a organized routine that is followed step by step. Forsythe seems to take a different view of choreography in his installation. Not something the is practiced, and memorized, but something more internal and reactionary. Natural movements of the body in response to inner and outer stimulus. It encouraged a youthful exuberance from all the attendees I witnessed and promoted an atmosphere of playfulness while, at the same time, leading the participants to think about the movement of their bodies and others. 


Q: OK, I am convinced. Group playfulness is a subject in entirely too short supply in today's world and especially in the ever-so-serious art world. And being prodded to think about the movement of our bodies alone and in concert with others seems to me to get at some deep body-centeredness that we have in childhood and lose somewhere along the line. You really make me want to see this show! Could you tell us about or describe one specific interactive thing within the installation that you liked? If I promise I will stop peppering you with questions soon?

A: My favorite installation within the exhibit was one that, the first time I went, no one noticed. It was an installation that was built into the museum walls. It had the appearance of someone slicing a 2 ft high gap into the bottom of the wall with the recess going back perhaps 15-20 feet. The first time I crawled into the opening, everyone else simply continued to walk past not noticing the hidden alcove. Laying on my back and watching the feet of the patrons walk past, I was amazed that such a confined space could feel so open and unrestricted. This probably had to do with the fact that I was only inside for a handful of minutes. 


The second time I went to view the installation, the hidden space was well known, and it was full of laughter and people experimenting with different ways of moving around the space. The museum attendant was pointing out different ways people had found of entering and exiting that involved sliding and rolling as opposed to crawling to spare the knees of the patrons.

It was amazing the difference the space had when I was alone vs. when it was full of twisting bodies. 

Q: Thanks so much to Emily Dugie and Mark Hoffman for this interview and photos – you have convinced us that we MUST get off this sofa and go see this show!!!



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