Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Put on your red shoes

I found this NYT article about the dance series 'Some sweet day' at MOMA and the wider question of the place (or non-place) of dance in the spaces and collections of art galleries fascinating.

The question “Why now?” is also profound. Answers include the pragmatic: blockbuster performance-art shows like Marina Abramovic’s retrospective at MoMA in 2010 invigorated museums just as a new generation of curators was becoming seduced by the tradition of body-based work. There are also more sweeping theories linking the rise of live art with the shift from an industrial economy (in which objects are privileged) to one centered around interaction and experience. 
... Though dance has long been in museums, events have often been haphazardly organized under the purview of public programming rather than as curatorial offerings on par with exhibitions. This marketing ploy has engendered a skepticism among many in the performance world about the latest round of interest.
From this point I went down a little rabbit-hole about dance notation. It is awesome. It is my new abstraction crush (lining up with cricket scoring). I mean, look at Rudolf Laban, and the system of notation he and a group of colleagues worked on, which evolved into Labanotation / Kinetography Laban.

No, seriously. Look at him:

Rudolf Laban.  Rozpravy Aventina, volume 4/1928-1929, issue 36, page 358. Digitised by Czech Academy of Sciences.
Right? Right. Wow. Labanotation is really very beautiful. I am fascinated by the fact you read it from the bottom up - which completely makes sense, as it captures the movement of the body forwards through time and space.

Labanotation for a ballet passage
There is something about it that reminds me strongly of Malevich

Kazimir Malevich, 'Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying', 1915. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
I am also rather taken with Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, a method commissioned by Louis XIV and devised in the 1680s. It is the fluid and flowing equivalent to Labanotation, the Calder to its Suprematism.

Example of Beauchamp-Feuillet notation

Alexander Calder, 'Glassy Insect', 1953. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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