Blending Dance and Sculpture Creates a Fresh View of Art

Chicago artist Brendan Fernandez doesn’t have to fit his work neatly into one category. “People ask, ‘Is this a prop?’ Is it a sculpture?

He now focuses his longtime interest in fusing dance and sculpture with the work of early 20th century artist William Edmondson. Fernandez created the work featured in the retrospective of Edmonson’s practice.monumental visionwill run until September 10th at the Burns Foundation in Philadelphia.

With the release of Fernandez’s work, Burns joins a number of institutions and artists around the world who are combining the mediums of dance and sculpture to question how people interact with museums and the visual arts. Show curators James Claiborne and Nancy Eilson said they hope Fernandez’s dance pieces, created in response to Edmonson’s stone sculptures, will “inspire new ways of looking at things.” Mr Ailson said. The work “Returning to Before” will be screened as a continuous live performance in the museum from Friday.

Claiborne recalled hearing Fernandez speak at Rutgers University in 2022, in which Fernandez said, “When objects become art, and when they become tangible.” discussed. Claiborne said this sparked an interest in “how museums often separate works of art and objects of spiritual and cultural significance from their original context,” which inspired him to come up with the Barnes Project. added that it helped

Fernandez said “Returning to Before” is “a one-hour piece, but there are moments when the dancers become statues.” They stop to think and rest, but also to mimic the positions of Edmonson’s sculptures. “They are meditating,” he added. “They are creating this space of comfort within the museum.”

“Museums are choreographed spaces,” said Fernandez, adding that choreography is a “set of rules” that people follow. In 2019, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fernandez exhibited his sculpture “Master and Form II,” a black scaffolding built into a steel cage. In performances that required considerable physical endurance, ballet his dancers would hang, balance, or jump over parts of the building.

“You go to museums, you don’t touch things, you don’t talk,” he said. On works like Master and Form II, he “played with and changed those etiquettes,” he said.

In the same way that Fernandez’s work interacts with Edmonson’s sculpture at the Barnes Museum, American artist Carrie Mae Weems has used dance to bring new meaning to her longstanding visual work. In her 2013 video work Holocaust Memorial, Weems moves reverently between the pillars of Berlin’s Memorial to the Jews Murdered in Europe, clapping and waving her arms. doing.

was there much discussion He talked about how visitors interact with the monument, which opened in 2005, including criticism of those who took commemorative photos. Self snap Alternatively, you can pose for other photos between or on the grid of columns.

In Weems’ words at a retrospective of his work at the Barbican Center in London, his movements were also caught on camera as he moved between objects in the memorial, and between the black and Jewish communities. It is said that the purpose was to emphasize the “common sense of struggle” of the people. Last year, at an exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany, Weems exhibited for the first time still images from his “Holocaust Memorial” series.

Prior to these recent works, American artist Nick Cave has spent much of his career fusing dance and sculpture. Since 1991, Cave has produced over 500 of his “sound suits” (vivid, wearable sculptures) that have been exhibited in museums around the world. Cave, he said, has long thought about how different museums separate works of art from their original purpose.

Sound suits are also worn in many of Art Space’s dance works, and the movements of the performers wearing the suits create “sounds.” For Cave, the idea of ​​museum sculpture is “helpful for interpretation,” he says. “Sculpture is something that meets its perfection on all sides. We move around it, we move in and out of it. You can also imagine sculpture in context.”

Museums and art galleries are looking for “new ways to stay relevant,” Ailson said, much like the Burns Foundation collaborated with Fernandez’s dance and Edmonson’s sculpture.

Claiborne said movement could put people in a “meditative space” and open up new ways to engage with the visual arts.

“Dance becomes a way for static objects to breathe new life into them,” he added.

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