At first, The Untitled Still Life Collection may seem a strange title for a dance performance, but looked at within the context of Dance/Draw, which the Institute of Contemporary Art is describing as the centerpiece of its 75th season, the name starts to make a little more sense. Dance/Draw is an exhibition and series of events designed to highlight the relationship between dance and visual arts outside of the simple contexts of set and costume design. Dance/Draw attempts to accomplish this by drawing historical connections between the two art forms through the boundary-shattering post-modern period beginning after World War II,
when previously-held conceptions about the importance of perfection in technical form were eschewed in favor of more open-ended, experimental styles of expression.
First conceived of over a year ago during a previous residency at the ICA, The Untitled Still Life Collection is a collaborative effort between a pair of two of the most brilliant figures within their respective fields of artistic expression today: dancer-choreographer Trajal Harrel and artist-sculptor Sarah Sze. Although the two have never collaborated before, they are long-time friends and their combined accolades provide more than enough justification for the huge amounts of buzz The Untitled Still Life Collection is generating.
Though based in New York City, Trajal Harrel is internationally-renowned for his choreographic work; which have been seen in festivals, theaters and gallery spaces from Brazil to Berlin. He makes a great fit for Dance/Draw in its mission to draw connections between seemingly-disparate arts in the postmodern era, as his most famous work to date, Twenty Looks, or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, was itself an attempt to imagine what would have happened in 1963 if participants from the Harlem vogue movement had made their way downtown to mingle with the early postmodernist dancers in Greenwich Village. The New York Times described it as “sophisticated, nuanced, and not to be missed”.
It will be fascinating to see how Harrel’s thought-provoking style plays up against the work of Sarah Sze, who is known for using ordinary objects to create colorful and multi-tiered site-specific installations and sculptures. Based—like Harrel—in New York, but born in Boston, Sze is a Yale and School of Visual Arts-educated artist par excellence. The Macarthur Genius Grant recipient has created solo shows for an impressive list of venues that includes the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Boston’s own Museum of Fine Arts.
The ICA promises an intimate gallery setting for Sze and Harrel to transform as they see fit, amid hanging sculptures by a number of other artists including Cornelia Parker, Fred Sandback, Louise Fishman, Faith Wilding and Gego. This stunning backdrop should provide the two plenty to work with, creating an multi-disciplinary artistic experience which is both dazzling and one-of-a-kind … a new form of Still Life altogether.
THE UNTITLED STILL LIFE COLLECTION