This month, Janine Antoni (2012 Visual Arts) premieres her Creative Capital-supported project, Ally, at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (opening April 21). Ally is an exhibition of art and dance conceived and performed by Antoni in collaboration with choreographer Stephen Petronio and movement artist Anna Halprin. Taking the form of performances, installation environments, videos and sculptures, Ally will occupy four floors of the museum for three months, with weekly live performances. A book will follow, edited by the British writer and performance scholar Adrian Heathfield.
Antoni writes, “I conceived of this project more than six years ago as a kind of retrospective of my art making, told through dance. It has evolved into a truly collaborative creation that allows us to find a way to continue making new work while looking back.”
Ally is comprised of four projects: Rope Dance, an improvised performance instigated by Halprin, who presented a rope to Antoni and Petronio to be used as a tool to connect their bodies and draw lines through space; Swallow, a complex installation based on a performance by Antoni and Petronio, who connected from the gut using a 10-foot strip of woven cloth; The Courtesan and the Crone, a dance of seduction originally created and performed by Halprin in 1999, reimagined here in a different gender and generational context as a solo performance by Petronio; and Paper Dance, an improvised performance by Antoni with rolls of brown paper in an environment that refers to both Antoni and Halprin’s artistic histories.
I connected with Janine to learn more about the development of Ally and her deeply collaborative process.
Jenny Gill: The works in Ally all sound incredibly complex and layered, but Paper Dance strikes me as particularly rich. Not only is it a weekly performance, but it is performed within a “set” of crated artworks from your artistic history. With each performance, you unpack and repack different artworks, so over the course of the 14 weeks of the show, a mini-retrospective of your past work emerges. Can you talk more about the role of these artworks in the performance and the exhibition?
Janine Antoni: When I first conceived of my project for Creative Capital, I wanted to make a retrospective of my work in dance. For me, it was a way to look back with the intention of moving forward. It was Anna Halprin’s idea to take a section of her work Parades and Changes (1965) as a score for me to do as a solo—she presented me with the rolls of paper she originally used to create that piece.
In the process of improvising movement with the paper, I started to notice how images from my past artworks were presenting themselves to me. It became clear that the lessons learned in the making and the conceptual concerns of my work have etched themselves into my psyche. In Paper Dance, there is a beautiful symmetry as both Anna and I are reconfiguring our pasts. Continue reading