Split Moment: Performance and Documentation at UAM

1:49pm | Tonight at 6:30 PM, CSULB's University Art Museum presents a free dance performance by Flora Wiegmann, one of the artists whose work is included in an exhibition entitled Split Moment. Split Moment was curated and organized by Mary Coyne, Damaris Leal, and Hillary Morimoto, students in the CSULB Graduate Program in Museum and Curatorial Studies. The exhibition looks at documentary works that relate to performance.

I asked Mary asked how the 15 month effort began.

"We proposed our idea to the museum in December of 2010," Mary said. "From there we developed the exhibition thesis and, after plenty of research, carefully considered which artists and artworks would work best. We started out with a very general idea which was refined and strengthened during last Spring. The original idea was centered around dance, and how it its interpreted through the visual arts. Then our ideas morphed more into a thesis about documentation and mediation of the live performance event. We were reading theorists, including Jacques Derrida, and it was his ideas that made the greatest impact on how we were thinking about documentation and performance.

"Instead of thinking about performance," explained Mary, "as the event from which artists could only document and attempt to re-create, we realized that documentation can offer alternative views of the performance not available when witnessing the live event. The artists we finally chose use documentation as their medium, and emphasize that mediated quality of their work as opposed to an original performance from which it may have derived."

I asked if the framework constructed itself around the artists as they discovered them, or if they created the framework, and then find artists who fit within it.

"The progression happened," Mary answered, "when we had chosen all the artists and the specific artworks and looked at them as a whole."

The media include photography and video, but one of the most interesting, to me, was Jocelyn Foye's polyurethane resin piece. I asked Mary to talk a bit about Foye's work, and the materials she produced.

"She often stages performances on pliable materials," said Mary, "and provides additional documentation through photography. The 'sculptural relief painting' is a cast of a small section taken from the large clay surface where the wrestlers performed. She is a multi-media artist, and has done pieces in clay, plastic, sand, and photography. Most of her work is produced from a live performance, which she organizes."

I asked Mary about the drawings of Trisha Brown, which do not look like what most people would think of as documentation.

"They are documents or discontinuous records of Brown's dancing," explained Mary. "Brown danced directly on the paper, holding charcoal in her feet. The marks left are indexes, or direct products of her movement. It was the adaptation of the documentary video camera that allowed for this expansion of Brown's practice. She was a choreographer and dancer who had formed the Judson Dance Theatre...once video was widely used, she could use drawing, which she had previously used to document her movement for more experimental pieces such as this.

"Her drawing is also an independent artwork, which does not have to be viewed in the context of a result of her movement. Her drawing is not only a documentation. It is an independent artwork from her performance. It is actually interesting how these drawings were made. Brown was performing in an empty gallery, but viewers were watching via a monitor outside the room, so this added another level of mediation onto the piece. When it was originally installed at the Walker Art Center the drawing was shown on the wall with a projected film of Brown dancing on the floor nearby."

I asked Mary what next steps the curatorial team members see for themselves, professionally.

"Its different for all of us," she said. "I want to continue curating. Damaris has become more interested in museum education. Hillary is planning to become a museum registrar."

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Split Moment, along with STATIC NOISE: The Photographs of Rhona Bitner, and Lou Reed's Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe audio installation, will be on display through April 15th.

More information about the museum's past, current, and future exhibitions, along with parking and other information, can be found at csulb.edu/UAM.



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