Magazine article Artforum International

Simone Forti: The Box

Magazine article Artforum International

Simone Forti: The Box

Article excerpt

Dance has long been overlooked in the art world. But in the past decade, a handful of modest retrospective exhibitions have used the gallery setting to redress the medium's wide-ranging role in the postwar avant-garde, with institutions from the Musee d'art contemporain de Lyon to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis granting overdue attention to the careers of such figures as Anna Halprin, Trisha Brown, and Yvonne Rainer. The most recent subject of this renewed interest is Simone Forti, who received a solo exhibition at the Box, a young gallery committed to exhibiting underrecognized artists and that has, so far, directed much of its focus toward figures who established their careers in the '60s. Forti began dancing with Halprin in 1955, and has since worked with many of the most significant artists of her generation. After the premiere of her seminal Dance Constructions at Yoko Ono's Chambers Street loft in 1961, she became a rare figure able to circulate among the conceptually oriented Judson Church group and the more expressionist Happenings scene. Forti's innovative use of props, such as the incline affixed with ropes that dancers climbed in Slant Board and the human-enclosing boxes used in Platforms (both 1961) influenced the sculpture of her then-husband Robert Morris, and she was called upon frequently to perform in works by Robert Whitman and Robert Rauschenberg, including the latter's Open Score, 1966.

Titled "Work in a Range of Mediums," the show surveyed nearly fifty years of Forti's movement-based practice, and displayed a surprising array of media: video and photographic documentation, drawings, paintings, notebooks, artists' books, audio recordings, and a hologram. The last--Angel, 1978--requires the viewer to circumnavigate its cylindrical form in order to bring the artist's body, an iridescent pixie, to life.

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Forti was formally trained in painting while studying at Hunter College in the mid-'60s, and draftsmanship has remained important to her practice. Here, a suite of eighteen drawings, titled Great Thanks, Empty Words, 1984, hung in the exhibition's first room, revealing the artist's careful attention to bodily forms and their individual qualities of movement. …

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