31 January – 3 April 2016
Curator: Roos Gortzak
From January 31 until April 3, Vleeshal presented a comprehensive solo exhibition by artist, choreographer, dancer and writer Simone Forti at both of its locations. Although Simone Forti has performed in the Netherlands in the 1980s, this was the first solo show of her seminal oeuvre here.
Simone Forti came to prominence in the 1960s, in a historical moment of rich dialogue between visual artists, musicians, poets and dancers. Despite being a key figure in the Minimal Art movement, she remains relatively unknown in the visual arts world. As Sabine Weingartner writes in a 2014 Frieze review of Forti’s retrospective in Museum der Moderne, Salzburg: “Her exclusion from Minimalism’s generally male canon was reinforced by dance’s longstanding reputation as an uncritical, ‘feminized’ art form rooted more in physical gesture than intellectual rigour”. Over the last years, Simone Forti’s work has received the attention and recognition that it deserves, culminating in the recent acquisition of the Dance Constructions (1960-1961) by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Forti’s work has made a major contribution to the intersection of sculpture and performance and helped to create a sensibility for “what we know about things through our bodies”. As early as 1960, at Reuben Gallery in New York, she created the object-centred happenings See Saw and Rollers. A year later, she presented Five Dance Constructions & Some Other Things as part of a series organised by composer La Monte Young at Yoko Ono’s studio in New York; radically new dances made up of every day movements, performed in interaction with sculptures and objects.
From January 30 until March 28, this legendary series of Dance Constructions was performed at Vleeshal Markt by a group of ‘movers’.* Choreographer Sarah Swenson, authorised representative of Simone Forti, taught the Dance Constructions to them, except for See Saw which follows a different scheme: artists Mie Frederikke Christensen and Margaux Parillaud were invited to develop a new version of this work, which Forti once described as a ‘domestic drama’.
At Vleeshal Zusterstraat a selection of works by Simone Forti from different periods was exhibited – with drawings, photographs, videos, and documentation of performances – including material from Forti’s first time in Middelburg in 1980, where she performed during interdisciplinary arts festival Forum. From her early minimalist Dance Constructions through her animal studies, news animations and collaborations with musicians, Forti has worked with an eye toward creating idioms for exploring natural form and behaviors. In the introduction to the third edition of her book Handbook in Motion. An account of ongoing personal discourse and its manifestations in dance, Forti writes: “I’m mainly focusing on how movement and language very naturally work together in our everyday lives, in our cognition and communication. I’m improvising from that root behavior, simultaneously dancing and speaking, trying to keep it earnest, light and surprising".
An earlier version of Simone Forti's exhibition Here It Comes was on view at Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm from 4 September to 15 November 2015 and was curated by Axel Wieder. From 29 January to 1 May 2016, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Rotterdam presented GESAMMTTKKUNNSTTMESHUGGAHHLAANDTTTT, a solo exhibition by Charlemagne Palestine.
*The group ‘movers’ consisted of: Jasmine Attié, Robin Becker, Bella Bouman, Zahar Bondar, Jim Buskens, Jacqueline Cijsouw, Daniel Conant, Raluca Croitoru, Rosanne van Ede, Femke Gerestein, Roos Gortzak, Zsa Zsa Hessels, Tiiu Jansen, Abel Kroon, Lola Lasry, Maaike Lobeek, Chantal Minnaard, Sarah Soethoudt, Eothen Stearn, Nick Terra, Cole Verhoeven, Renske de Vries, and Sasha Zalivako. The selection was made in response to an open call. Dance experience was not necessary, however, applicants were asked to indicate if they could whistle, which was a task in one of the Dance Constructions.
Bryony Gillard & Louis Hartnoll, Artists at Work: Simone Forti. Afterall
Nancy Lim, MoMA Collects: Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions. INSIDE/OUT: A MoMA/MoMA PS1 Blog
Sarah Swenson, At Work with the Dance Constructions. Perspectives Magazine National Gallery Singapore
During the finissage of Here it Comes, Simone Forti's legendary Dance Constructions were activated at Vleeshal for the last time in the presence of Forti herself. It is very rare for all of Fortis’ famous Dance Constructions to be seen in one day.
This project was made possible by the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund and the municipality of Middelburg.