Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trisha Brown

Trisha Brown does not only have a huge influence on me but she has completely changed how art is described.

My dance professor from first semester, Lightsey Darst, summed it up quite well. She described dance as a "cloud". I believe this also transfers easily over to art and also merges the two forms together.

Imagine the individual particles of a cloud floating in space. They are all individual yet interacting with eachother in order to ultimately see the cloud-shape that percieved as a cloud. Now imagine this cloud shape to be art. Art is made up of particles that at any particular time can be a part or not be a part of our cloud shape. Keep with me in this world of analogy and imagine our cloud shapes as you would as an imaginative child. We see our clouds as bunnys, the crazy old lady next door, a sneaker, a fed-ex truck, whatever. Eventually our imagined creatures and shapes collide and contort, interacting with eachother, forming new, even more radical forms. If we tie this analogy to our concepts, we can dedicate the bunnies and trucks we imagine in the clouds as "art" and "dance" possibly even "craft" or "writing". So there are different types of clouds. Yet at the same time, these clouds interact, become one, separate, evolve.

This is why over the years art has been so hard to describe. Dance has found this struggle as well. Trisha Brown has done a beautiful, awe-inspiring job of portraying this concept. After Modern Dance took the stage, Trisha Brown evolutionized the movement to a form that was less rehersed that took a natural form. Her movements weren't glamorized or made prestigious by trained ballet dancers. She mimmicked everday movement like reaching for the flour in the cupboard or bending down to pick up a pencil. Simple tasks like walking, running, or even lifting an arm now became dance. This is a huge deal in art and dance history. It revolutionized what it is we consider art and what we consider dance. Can I be simply walking down the street and expressing dance?

Brown also took a huge step in converging art and dance. Many of her performances are set up as galleries (One of which I was lucky enough to see at the Walker). Like in one of the pictures shown, her performers are levied up to the wall of a gallery so they, themselves, are the art piece on the gallery wall. Some of Brown's other pieces are more direct and involve brown dancing as she creates a drawing or painting. In one, she holds charcol in her foot and as she dances, traces her patterns and steps. She beautifully weaves together two different art forms into one.
One of my favorite pieces is "Spiral Trees" which she demostrated at the Walker. This involved harnessing her performers into trees. They were attatched to a wire that was wound around the trunk of a tree so that when they were released, they would spiral down the tree. It created the illusion that the person was walking the circumfrence of the tree sidways. Each walker would be realeased at a different time interval. It isn't simultaneous or intricate. The beauty of it is it's simpilicity.

Tisha Brown's work is simple yet profound. I am amazed at how such a short statement can make such an impact on so many levels.