After a month and a half as a resident at Mana, life seems to have fallen into a routine, and a busy one at that. The time traveling to New Jersey every day gave me plenty of time to think more carefully about the influences and the subject matter that prevail in my work. A dominant influence seems to be my background as a dancer. I am becoming increasingly aware of its fundamental influence beyond feeling crippled when working without listening to music. The way I think of the relationship between the space and my pieces (drawings and sculptures) is similar to the way I think of a stage. Essentially, I view the exhibit space as a stage where an intangible movement between the pieces takes place and the viewer gets a picture of the entirety of the space. Each piece becomes more important as a part of a whole than as an entity of its own. The size of the drawings gives them a stage set quality. One issue dancers are confronted with is gravity. Whether they embrace it and play with its specific possibilities such as falls or collapsing moves or fight it by balancing on point shoes or jumping, dancers are constantly subjected to it.
In a similar way, I wish to use gravity in my pieces to create ambiguous compositions where the piece is somewhere between active or passive. By this, I mean that if I create shapes that look like gravity is dominant such as shapes bulging towards the bottom or drooping, they will suggest a sense of passivity, therefore implying defeat, vulnerability or rest. If I create shapes that suggest a muscle contraction, then the general impression will be one of action. In this specific body of work which explores shapes faced with an opposing force, one might ask if the shape is fighting the constriction or is unresponsive, thus creating a subtle tension.
My subject has been shapes evoking the human body or other organic forms greatly enlarged such as viewed by a macro lens. Most of them could be an intimate small part of the body, such as the fold inside an elbow, the criss between fingers, the small of the back, etc. But being blown up so large, they become unrecognizable and the interpretation of what is being viewed has more to do with the viewer’s unconscious than what I have partially tried to render. This seems to mirror the language of the modern dance choreographer. Some of the movement they create evoke moves we are familiar with. For example, in Pina Bausch’s Rite of spring, the repetition of a move where an elbow is hitting the belly of the dancer might suggest a self stabbing action or in Ohad Naharin’s choreographic language the shaking moves might evoke anxiety. Their choreographies will trigger projections coming from the audience. The choreographer might give the general tone of the work, but the specifics are left for the audience to define. I think in some way I am trying to create a language of shapes. And this language, to be effective, has to take into consideration the principles that rule our bodies, such as the relationship between bones and muscles and flesh, even if the shape is made up and would never be found in Nature.
I have now established a relationship with my studio space and will be sad to let it go in November. I am pleased to have Jessica as my studio mate and am looking forward to collaborating on a sculpture with her. I am moving forward with my projects and the largest one, an eight foot tall shape thrashing itself against the wall is almost constructed. It will be on view in our open studio exhibit. I am looking forward to the Mana Contemporary open studios on October 15th where Jessica in I will be in the ISC space on the 5th floor together with previous residents. It should be fun to spend the day with them and be part of a larger ISC community. I hope to maybe meet some of you there.
Thanks again to the ISC and Mana!
By Carole Halle