Friday, September 20, 2013

Blurred—Make that Erased—Lines

Olivia Ancona. Photo courtesy The Drawing Center
Artists commonly erase lines, a necessary step in the creative experimentation process. To some, it's an end in itself—Rauschenberg erased a De Kooning drawing. Perhaps as a result of not erasing enough lines, I've seen an artist destroy, with an X-Acto knife, several paintings deemed failures. (Painful to watch.)

At the Drawing Center earlier this week, Susan Hefuna and Luca Veggetti expanded on the ideas of negation and memory in a collaboration titled Notationotation. Hefuna used white chalk to make a grand drawing on the wooden floor of the main gallery; it resembled a loose fishing net. (A lovely show of Hefuna's drawings hangs in the back gallery, through Sep 20.) This process was videotaped and shown on the wall during the performance, in addition to footage of a Broadway intersection, where incessant occupation and displacement occurs. 

The human erasers were three articulate, lithe dancers: PeiJu Chien-Pott (a Martha Graham company member), Gabrielle Lamb, and Olivia Ancona.performing movement by Luca Veggetti. Wearing black socks below sleek pleated black pants and grey tank tops, the women slid their feet along the chalk lines as if walking on high lines  Particulars of Veggetti's style repeated: wing-like arms held in tension, feet in forced arches, deep lunges, high extended legs. (And for once, the habitual, trendy socked foot in dance performance—of which Veggetti is a proponent—was completely justified.)

While the dancers' workmanlike concentration and efficiency made for a poetic, if brief performance, the behavior of the crowd held some interest as well. We were allowed to move about at will while the dancers worked. The audience clustered and expanded around each dancer, grudgingly moving a foot or so when a dancer tried to claim a line to erase. Whether it was just New Yorkers being New Yorkers, or human nature, who knows—we became an indispensable, resilient element in the performance. 

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