William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects

Didier Morelli
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
October 31, 2018 – February 21, 2019
William ForsytheThe Differential Room, 2018.
Photo : Liza Voll, courtesy of the artist
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
October 31, 2018 – February 21, 2019
[En anglais]

Contemporary art museums often face the difficult task of developing exhibitions that cater to multiple publics. Striving for intellectual rigor and cultural relevance while succumbing to the overwhelming pressures of entertainment capital and divertissement, curators and educators alike seek to strike a balance between ticket sales and critical content — with mixed results. William Forsythe: Choreographic Objects at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston avoids the traps of this era of consumer driven, spectacle inducing blockbuster exhibitions. Cataloguing almost twenty years of installations, films, and sculptures produced by the American-born choreographer William Forsythe (b. 1949), the exhibition is a stirring invitation to participate in the experience of transposing principles of dance off the stage and into the gallery. Witty and humorous, self-reflexive, and conceptually rich, Forsythe’s Choreographic Objects are easily accessible pathways into a surprisingly complex universe.

According to Forsythe, Choreographic Objects are a set of problems and relationships, a “combination of perceptual systems,” that foster embodied action-based knowledge. From the outset of the exhibition, the audience is invited to take part in the work — to become kinesthetically aware through the choreographer’s various propositions. In City of Abstracts (2000), a video-software that projects a delayed, out-of-sync version of the audience’s live actions onto a wall, performances emerge out of everyday gestures. With this work, from the start of the exhibition laughter and complicity override awkward self-consciousness. Choreography becomes a tangible product of space and movement, but more poignantly it is immediately rendered physically accessible. In Antipodes I / II(2006), a two-channel video in which Forsythe uses his ballet training to be seen defying gravity by creating impossible spatial arrangements, a sense of play nourishes the imagination. The suspension of the laws of nature, or the desire to make them visible through various corporeal arrangements, is a recurring motif. This is the case in Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 3 (2013), an installation in which the audience is invited to move through a room filled with moving pendulums while trying not to come into contact with them. As with all of the Choreographic Objects, Forsythe’s material/spatial score gives rise to countless performances, filled with unforeseen outcomes, failures, and perspectives.

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