Posts Tagged ‘Dance’

Agnes Martin and Consciousness

I had 15 minutes today to look at the Agnes Martin exhibit at Pace Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.  Agnes Martin was an abstract expressionist painter, her classification of choice.  Her work is also referred to as minimalist, being identified by lines, grids and very subtle fields of color.

I had a profound experience of seeing her work today, which feels relevant to discussions happening now about consciousness.  I had looked up the exhibition online, saw photos on the Pace Gallery website, and thought ‘oh, maybe I’ll skip this’, but I happily made it there before the gallery closed.  My immediate reaction was that online photographs of artwork don’t do it justice!  This is what we say in dance about video recordings of our pieces.  There’s something vibrational and immediate about having a 3D experience in real-time in a theater or other space as audience or witness.  Similarly, I felt as though I could immediately sense the vibration of Martin’s work as soon as I entered the large gallery space.  Her minimalist work immediately gave me so much space to reflect and experience.  I don’t know much about her, but I picked up a press release and read that she favored looking at her work from a personal and spiritual vantage point rather than an ineffectual one.   (Ha!  That was supposed to say ‘intellectual’ but I must have had a Freudian typo.)  I became aware of the amazing rigor of her work, which I most definitely experience on a relatively uninformed level, not knowing the technicalities of what it takes to create that type of work.  But what was even more amazing was that it was almost as if consciousness were leaping off the canvases!

It took me back to the ‘Dance and Consciousness’ Studies Project panel that I spoke on last week.  I had listened to a BodyTalk lecture where BodyTalk founder John Veltheim gave a metaphor for our human consciousness.  He spoke about scientists’ putting a frog in a blender, pouring the contents into a beaker and then waiting for the frog to form as if having all the components is what makes the whole–a biological perspective.  (And…beyond that, as scientists continue to try to find the smallest particle, all they can do is keep finding smaller and smaller particles.  Tangent to that is the ‘way’ alternative theory that we are composed of black holes…had to mention it.)  In other words, we are not simply the sum of our parts…arm, leg, foot, nose, brain.  There is something larger that holds the whole being together.  Consciousness is proposed to be the base matter for all beings/matter in this scenario.

So back to Agnes…  I saw the lines, colors, grids, gray, shades of white….in and of themselves, simply that…lines and colors.  But there was something beyond the pieces…beyond intellectual concept, beyond theoretical composition…that I wanted to call ‘consciousness’.  I experienced an invitation to perceive differently, i.e. consciousness created through the action of perception (Alva Noe).  It was something not easily put into words, maybe not meant to be put into words.  I felt like I experienced all the ‘consciousness’ that went into this creation, and it was quite a beautiful, affecting experience.


Quote from Agnes Martin (1912-2004):

‘It is quite commonly thought that the intellect is responsible for everything that is made and done.   It is commonly thought that everything that is can be put into words.  But there is a wide range of emotional response that we make that cannot be put into words.  We are so used to making these emotional responses that we are not consciously aware of them till the are represented as art work.’

–Michelle Boulé, Dance and Consciousness Studies Project Panelist


I hope everyone is surviving (and thriving) in this hot summer city. Meanwhile, I have saved perhaps the most difficult book for last.


The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory, edited by Theodore R. Schatzki, Karen Knorr Cetina, and Eike von Savigny (Routledge, 2001) is a collection of essays on practice from the perspective of social theory. This means that, although many of its examples are drawn from embodied practice — some even from the performing arts — it is most of all concerned with practice in the broadest sense: “fighting together, hunting together, sailing together, singing together, even, in the present-day world, doing science together” (25).

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Finally, I arrive at a book that is explicitly about dance: Judith Hamera’s Dancing Communities: Performance, Difference and Connection in the Global City (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Although this book does not have quite the coherent structure or unified argument of the previous two, it does accomplish something that I called for in my previous post: It places ballet and Pilates training (among other examples) side by side and examines them each as embodied practices, rather than segregating them on account of dance’s public role as one of the “performing arts” and the status of Pilates as a personal rather than public practice. Read the rest of this entry »

FLATLAND EPIPHANY (This is not a dance review)

If ever words expressed their inefficiency for engaging with the language of dance, never was such an experience so profoundly compelling as that of Vanessa Justice’s “FLATLAND” at Joyce SoHo. Stark, strange, and multi-presentational it epitomizes the phenomenological split

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Upcoming Workshops, Fall 2009/Winter 2010

Check out our Fall 2009/Winter 2010 Worskhops.

These are mostly FREE. For more info on workshop registration visit or email

Mariangela Lopez . Accidental Movement. FREE.
Saturdays October 3 – November 22. 5:00 pm-7:30 pm. Movement Research at Eden’s Expressway.
*This workshop is filling fast. If you plan to attend you can register by emailing

As part of her residency, Mariangela Lopez, a Movement Research 2009 Artist-in-Residence, offers this free workshop open to everyone -no prior movement experience is necessary. The workshop space will become a platform to share

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Genesis Project Artist Interview #4: Fergus Byrne

The following interview took place on August 21st, 2009, between Fergus Byrne (2009 Genesis Project Artist-in-Residence) and Arturo Vidich and Aki Sasamoto (Culture Push co-directors). We conducted the interview via Skype chat, which we found to be an interesting medium, somewhere between a recording and email correspondence. We sat at the same table.

Fergus ByrneAki Sasamoto: What are you working on right now in the residency?

Fergus Byrne: I’m working on various collaborative projects with Saul [Melman] and Meghan [Flanigan]. They can be related to work I have been doing recently back in Ireland. Embroidery with Saul. Dance work and drawing with Meghan.

Arturo Vidich: How has the work you came with to this residency been influenced or added to by the other artists? I’m thinking in particular about the skipping. What strikes me is that you decided not to skip after the first 2 weeks of the residency because it was a hold-over from the work you were doing before you came to Philly. How does, or does it play in to what you’re doing now with drawing, in the last few days?
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Genesis Project Artist Interview #3: Meghan Flanigan

The following interview took place on August 21st, 2009, between Meghan Flanigan (2009 Genesis Project Artist-in-Residence) and Arturo Vidich and Aki Sasamoto (Culture Push co-directors). We conducted the interview via Skype chat, which we found to be an interesting medium, somewhere between a recording and email correspondence. We sat at the same table.

Meghan FlaniganAki Sasamoto: What are you working on right now in the residency?

Meghan Flanigan: I’m working on a number of projects that don’t really have names yet. Two are collaborations with Fergus: a drawing that we do together and the other so far is a movement work. I’m also working on a video exploration.

AS: Can you tell us about how you started your involvement in drawing and video? Here I’m assuming you are someone who has worked primarily in the dance field.

MF: The drawing came a bit from the experience at the drawing marathon and then further when Fergus gave a workshop based on contact drawing. I helped out with contact warm-up exercises and then we drew. I mostly have a dance background but I’ve been itching to work more in other media recently and this is a good way to get started.

AV: How do you see this residency shaping or not shaping your new direction with media-based performance?

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Genesis Project: an experimental artist residency

Genesis_SQI’ve been meaning to start a blog for a long time. What better way to get started than on someone else’s blog? And what better org than Movement Research? I’m digging the WordPress mash-up, and the blog’s proverbial flow with which I can go. For the next month I’m going to use this blog as a platform for discussions surrounding practice and process. And this blog will address the tightrope walk between the everyday world of groceries and rent and doctors and rent and networking, and the world of imagination and metaphor that we, as artists evolving along a lineage dating back to Read the rest of this entry »

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