The Barbican can always be relied on to bring diverse and stimulating arts into the heart of London. Taking over the Barbican’s Art Gallery this spring are the innovative works of art and performances by three New York artists. The gallery space has been recreated into scenes of downtown NYC in the 1970s, when a movement from stage-to-street saw a revolution in the way art was created, performed, and received.
The exhibition features mixed media projects by Laurie Anderson, architectural structures and drawings by Gordon Matta-Clark, and dance performances choreographed by Trisha Brown, which are performed by dancers throughout the day.
Be warned: the dance pieces shown, which are described as ground-breaking, are not exactly what comes to mind when one hears the word ‘dance’. The experimental nature, however, is fascinating to watch. Walking on the Wall is pedestrianism told slant – quite literally – dancers are suspended in harnesses as they traverse the walls. In Floor of the Forest, dancers pick their way through a grid of webbed ropes, fitting their bodies in and around the clothing that is threaded on.
Both pieces encourage the audience to alter their perspective. When observed from above, it appears that we are watching the dancers the way we watch people in the street, while underneath on the ground floor audience members stare up, not just at the dancers but at the audience watching from the balcony too. It is almost impossible not to feel implicated into the pieces.
Dance, as seen in Brown’s choreography, is stripped to its bare essentials. There are no elaborate costumes or intricate lighting designs, and the pieces are performed without music. Working with minimalistic movements drawn from the pedestrian actions of every day life, he brings the core elements of dance into the spotlight.
Though some of the pieces may seem alien, the entire exhibition deserves a visit, if only to see what can be achieved when form and structure are left behind.
The Exhibition runs until the 22nd May.
Admission: £8/£7 (online)