Spaces Created by Action

A collaborative work with the Dance students at Reed.
Meredith Monk, our visiting artist this semester, is one of the pioneers of the site-specific performance genre. From her earliest experiences in New York, Monk began pushing the boundaries of postmodern dance and music. In her efforts to use nontraditional performing spaces such as museums, loft spaces, and parking lots by the late 1960's, she set the stage for other choreographers and directors to seek out alternative performing spaces.

1. Create, choreograph, design a work that evokes or take place in a specific space. 
Consider types of spaces and what is performed in them, found spaces, a domestic space like the kitchen table, a bed room, a garden, a public spaces, a library or a coffee shop, a funeral parlor, a temple, a church a book shop, a grocery store, the street.  The creation of the space can be done with clothing/costume, projection, steam, mirrors etc.

2. Construction of the space and movement in the space is the transformation of that space.
"The way that I work is sometimes parallel with a space and sometimes in counterpoint. For example, I like to put very magical and mysterious images against very ordinary or funky spaces. I like to bring the space to life so that you would see it in a fresh way. Of course, that was always the idea, that maybe you would go by that parking lot and see it in a new way." Monk

3. The framing of performance can be a subversive act. What will you do to create a new experience and who will come to see this? 
"I started creating site-specific work in the 1960s. At that time, I was questioning
the nature of performance. 'What was its purpose?' I wondered. 'How can performance
become something more essential? Can we make it an inherent part
of our lives, a template of experience?'" Monk

4. What boundaries of art viewing, making, and performing do we break now?
The work can be site specific, created and performed and recorded in that space, or you can create a situation that creates the space and the action.
"When I first came to New York, it was the end of what was called the Happenings movement. There were a lot of people, like Allan Kaprow, who were taking people outside and experimenting with different artistic strategies. I would have loved to see these experiments. I do remember seeing the piece Claes Oldenburg did in a swimming pool. The thing about these visual artists' work was that it was not time based. You had to sit there and wait for the next image. It was somewhat clumsy in the time realm, but it was always worthwhile because their fluid way of thinking about materials was very inspiring. In those days, many artists in the downtown scene were trying to go past the boundaries of their own forms."

Fall 2013

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