This exhibition, Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta- Clark at the Barbican Art Gallery opened in March and I am ashamed to say I got to see it just a few days before it closed on 22nd May, that’s pathetic isn’t it? Particularly as it was so brilliant, I should have gone at least more than once.
Exploring the work of three New York artists in the 1970’s: Performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson, choreographer Trisha Brown and artist Gordon Matta-Clark. The exhibition is divided spatially by placing the working drawings, films, sculptures and documentation on the upper level. On the lower level dancers perform.
Henry Montes in Floor of the Forest
In October 2010 I drew Floor of the Forest when it was performed by Candoco and Laban dancers in The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre. Floor of the Forest, choreographed by Trisha Brown, is performed on a frame on which a lattice of ropes are tied and threaded with clothes. The two dancers move slowly to ambient sound, along the structure by dressing and undressing through the draped garments. The long pauses when they hang upside down, supported only by the clothes creates a powerful sense of weight and gravity which pervades the performance.
Gorden Matta-Clark’s Open House explores the relationship between performance and structure. Seen from above, the performers move in, out, around and over a metal container/skip. It has maze-like corridors and doors that they move through. As they walk, climb, sit and roll they call each other and chat. It feels very inviting I want to join them, I can’t be the only one to feel this compulsion. Sure enough as the dancers walk away the audience move towards and enter the structure, opening and closing the doors, exploring how it feels to be inside.
I missed the first part of Trisha Brown’s Planes. I was sitting with my elbows on a table, my eyes closed and my hands over my ears. I was activating The Headphone Table. Laurie Anderson’s investigation into sound traveling through the body through vibrations. Fragments of recorded poetry were reaching my ears through the pressure of my elbows on the table, my hands working as headphones. It was totally mesmerising. Also a pillow, lay your head down and the pillow softly speaks, activated by the weight, how deliciously soothing… I crouch over with my eyes closed wondering if this could be the answer to my intermittent insomnia.
Planes: a wall with holes cut into it, the dancers slowly climb across, stopping when they reach a new position, balancing, again the sense of gravity and strength is powerful. This felt very familiar as I drew, reminding me of the feeling of the pull, stretch, balance and tremor of fear when on the climbing walls with my two sons.