Lucinda Childs / Sol LeWitt

Paris Pantin
Lucinda Childs / Sol LeWitt
vendredi le 23 septembre de 19h à 21h
Friday, 23 September 2016 | 7- 9pm
Curator: Lou Forster
23. September 2016 – 7. January 2017
The exhibition Lucinda Childs – Sol LeWitt is part of the Lucinda Childs
retrospective due to take place this autumn at the Galerie Thaddeus Ropac,
the Centre National de la Danse, and in the Festival d’Automne. The
exhibition at our space in Pantin highlights the parallel development of the
graphic methods of these two artists during the 1970s. Their collaboration
in the piece Dance (1979) gained widespread attention, but their affinity had
begun to grow at the beginning of the decade with ideas in common about
drawing, seriality and movement.
In 1979, Lucinda Childs began rehearsals for Dance in New York. The piece
was a turning point in the choreographer’s career; it was a move away from
the alternative spaces in which she had presented her pieces over the
previous two decades. Working with Sol LeWitt and composer Philip Glass,
she developed a show that explored the specificities of the theatre system.
Sol LeWitt’s contribution was to create the only film installation in his oeuvre.
A 35mm film shot a few months beforehand was superimposed over the live
dance, on a transparent screen covering the entire stage. In a complex, edited
version of the same dance, this film multiplied the points of view of the
choreography, while it was simultaneously executed in real-time by the
dancers. The exhibition at Pantin has benefited from an exceptional loan
from the Whitney Museum, New York, of one of the original choreographic
scores of Dance #4 (1979); it was donated to the Whitney Museum
by Lucinda Childs.
The choreographer’s archives, which have never been exhibited
before, trace the development of her choreographic language in the 1970s,
using more than a hundred pieces of graphic material. These documents
operate as an echo to Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #357, which is a development
of the arc motif on the walls of the gallery. The arc, along with the straight
line and the diagonal, constitute the formal repertoire of Lucinda
Childs’s minimalist dances.
For the five dances that initially made up Dance, Lucinda Childs
used a procedure, invented in 1973, involving a diagram from which she
generated the choreographic score. In the 1960s, Childs had drawn
sketches delineating pathways of movement, but in the 1970s she turned
towards compositions involving ordinary movements strung together
serially and repetitively. Walking and changes of direction thus became the
essential raw material of her dances and, from then on, the pathways
of movement sketches would be integrated into the score of the piece.
At their first meetings for the creation of Dance, Sol LeWitt and
Lucinda Childs exchanged diagrams of the dances (probably by fax).
The artist would then attribute a primary colour to them. The central place
of diagrams in the elaboration of the dances stemmed from the
methodology Lucinda Childs had begun to adopt in 1973. She no longer tried
to work out the dancers’ pathways beforehand; a graphic machine, a drafting
tool, now generated the lines. It was only later, during rehearsals, that
the performers’ pathways were individualised. At the heart, then, of the
construction of the choreography we find the same methodology as Sol LeWitt
developed in his serial work of the 1970s and 80s. In LeWitt’s wall drawings,
and in Lucinda Childs’s choreography, the notion of series enables them
both to push the graphic logic of each motif to infinity.
Among the documents assembled in this exhibition, a great deal of the
correspondence between Sol LeWitt and the choreographer is also displayed.
It is possible to follow the drawn and stamped diagrams that the artist made
in Murano, Rome and Beijing in response to the choreographer’s diagrams
of the dances. On the back of one of these postcards, there are some
flicker-pictures; they are from a photographic plate entitled Man
performing headspring, a flying pigeon interfering, part of Eadweard Muybridge’s
study of animal locomotion, in this case photos illustrating the different
stages of a headspring. Photographed head-on, the movement looks
incoherent, whereas, in profile, the photos reveal the sequential logic inherent
in ordinary movements. The seriality of the two artists’ work was thus
constructed as much from graphical processes as from capturing the
ordinary movements that animate human locomotion and, in this
respect, Eadweard Muybridge is a reference shared by both of them.
The execution of Wall Drawing #357: A 12″ (30 cm) grid covering the wall,
which Sol LeWitt created in November 1981 in New York and which exploits
the arc motif, will be realised by an artist from the Sol LeWitt Foundation,
who will work for over three weeks on a white chalk realisation of the drawing
on a black-painted wall nearly 25 metres long. The last day of drawing will
coincide with the opening of the exhibition on Saturday, 24 September 2016.
The Wall Drawing will be wiped off on 7 January 2017, the last day of the
exhibition. This will also take place in the presence of an audience.
Curator: Lou Forster
Production: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac,
CND Centre national de la Danse with the Festival d’Automne
In the context of the exhibition Lucinda Childs,
Nothing Personal, 1963 – 1989 organized with
CND Centre national de la danse and Festival d’Automne in Paris

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