12. mars – 6. september 2009

The concept of modern dance is central to Trisha Brown’s work as a dancer and choreographer. She arrived in New York City as a young dancer in the 1960s and sought out the leading environment for the development of a new, modern dance like that created by Martha Graham, one that arose as an alternative to, and a critique of, modern classical ballet.

The concept of modern dance is central to Trisha Brown’s work as a dancer and choreographer. She arrived in New York City as a young dancer in the 1960s and sought out the leading environment for the development of a new, modern dance like that created by Martha Graham, one that arose as an alternative to, and a critique of, modern classical ballet. This style of dance had stronger interaction with the performance area of visual art than with music. In New York, Brown met innovative choreographers and performance artists such as Simone Forti, Anne Halperin, Yvonne Rainer and Robert Morris.

The urge to create new forms of expression often comes from a need to find an alternative to forms and approaches that the most ambitious artists start to feel are too well established, and thus emptied of potential for further development. The beautiful movements performed by professionally trained and physically fit dancers were complemented by this new type of dance, which had two particular principles as a basis for its choreography: the first was that it was built on ordinary movements, the second was that it was moulded on the principle of structured improvisation.

These two principles did not place the same demands on the dancer’s physique and classical training. This modern dance was also occupied with vanquishing the sense that a dance’s choreography was a deliberate expression of a dancer’s (and the audience’s) traditional, cultivated apprehension of what make a movement beautiful. It was an act of liberation from classical and traditional artistic dance. Naturally, it is not without form, but its form, its action and articulation through movement over time are decided by set factors. It uses the body’s physical shape, the floor and the walls as a physical reality and, last but not least when it comes to Trisha Brown, gravity. The dancer performs “tasks”.

The choreography is created through an analysis of and an interest in what must happen for simple tasks and movements to be performed in a different situation to normal. For example, what happens when a dancer puts on trousers and a jumper when they are hung horizontally in a net, a metre above the floor (Floor of the Forest)? Or how does it feel to see a dancer walking vertically down a wall, hanging from a wire, trying to walk horizontally on the vertical wall and pressing his legs and feet against the wall so that his horizontal body does not lose contact and start to swing freely (Man Walking Down the Side of a Building)?

In the earliest work in the exhibition – Homemade, from 1966 – we see how Trisha Brown dances with a film projector on her back. She can control the film remotely, with a wire switch, so we suddenly see a flickering image on the walls behind her. Her movements are accompanied by the film’s images that appear in unexpected places. Where these images are projected depends on the dancer’s movements, and the positions of the dancer and projection change in relationship to each other.

When experiencing work by Trisha Brown, it is important to understand the logic and structure of the system. In the works titled Accumulation, she starts with a simple hand movement which develops through accumulation, with movements that become continually more complex and compounded, following each other systematically. Sometimes she is moving alone, standing or lying on the floor, other times she is in a group of four dancers in synchronised movements on the floor. These works display a systematic accumulation of related movements and the dance is not over before all the possible means and directions of movement have been tested; not before the prone body has raised her knees, turned the knees to the right, to the left, rolled the body, twisted and turned around on the floor.

One of the four screens shows the curator and art critic Klaus Kertess interviewing Trisha Brown. We recommend that visitors begin by watching this interview.

This exhibition is being shown in parallel with the Jan Groth exhibition in the Lyche Pavillion. Jan Groth is a friend of Trisha Brown and his work has clear points of contact with hers. This exhibition is part of Drammens Museum’s presentation of avant-garde performance and dance. It continues the themes of the Phenomenal Bodies exhibition (Lyche Pavillion, 2002) and Peter Moore in the Nøstetangen Room (2004).

- Åsmund Thorkildsen, Museum Director and curator of the Solo project in the Nøstetangen Room

 

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