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  •  REVIEW: ISAMU NOGUCHI: SCULPTURAL DESIGN

    Robert Wilson's installation of Noguchi's stage set elements from Herodiade (1944) choreographed by Martha Graham in Isamu Noguchi: Sculptural Design
    Courtesy: The Noguchi Museum
    Robert Wilson's installation of Noguchi's stage set elements from Herodiade (1944) choreographed by Martha Graham

    Noguchi, Wilson, and Graham

    In "Noguchi: Sculptural Design", sculptor, theater and dance artists collaborate.

    By DAVID HATCHETT
    Offoffoff.com

    Theater director Robert Wilson organized the exhibition at the Noguchi Museum as an installation of Isamu Noguchi sculpture and furniture design, with an emphasis on his work with the dancer Martha Graham. A pitch-dark hallway and room contains dramatically lit sculptures that were originally created for the sets of Graham performances. A bone or staff carved out of wood is a stage element from her 1947 "Errand into the Maze." It hangs on a wall of blackness. The exhibit recalls the original theatrical contexts. Graham pieces are also displayed on video monitors that are face up in white boxes placed throughout the show. An image of Graham behind Minotaur horns, dishes out rope orgasmically. She ties it around and around the horns like a web from which she hangs and watches a passerby.

      
    ISAMU NOGUCHI: SCULPTURAL DESIGN
    Exhibition: Isamu Noguchi: Sculptural Design.
     SCHEDULE
    June 12 - October 3, 2004

    Gallery: The Noguchi Museum
    9-01 33rd Rd.
    Queens NY
    Hours: Wed, Thur, Fri 10-5/Sat,Sun 11-6

    It is clear upon entering the show that this is not a normal sculptural installation. Through the use of dramatic lighting, video monitors, sound and set designs, Wilson recreates context for the sculpture. He has turned the tables on tradition and placed the viewer on stage in a radical take on art and theater.

    Noguchi was comfortable working in different ways, and his art defies the straitjacket of a single viewpoint. He could design theatrical sets, furniture, gardens, and fountains, as well as build 'traditional' sculpture with such ease, and this speaks to the conceptual foundation of his art. In the museum a mod living room is decked out in the sweeping curves of '40s or '50s furniture. Noguchi Akari lamps are strewn about a hay bale 'prairie style,' evoking a ranch party scene.


      
    It is clear upon entering the show that this is not a normal sculptural installation.  

      
    The sculptures that are exhibited throughout the Noguchi Museum Garden are not only placed in a 'natural' setting, they are nature. The majority of these pieces are stones that are barely manipulated. A stone is divided into a few cut pieces and then reassembled. Other stones are shaped slightly, made smooth in one place, textured with a chisel in another place. The basic material presence of the stone as a piece of nature is never interfered with. The viewer's contemplative experience is heightened by the sound of wind rustling through the trees. Water pools up and flows over the edges of a carved black block that sits next to a path in the shade of a tree.

      
      Wilson has turned the tables on tradition and placed the viewer on stage in a radical take on art and theater.
      
    Martha Graham's dance is grounded in natural, everyday human movement. The tension between natural movement and dance is the realm where her art is energized, and where she revolutionized modern dance. Wilson exploits the tension between what is expected and what is presented to enliven the very act of perception at any given moment. The act of direct experience in all of its complexity (the interaction of an individual with the immediate environment) is nature. This interaction is at the heart of Noguchi's art, as well as the dance of Martha Graham and the theater of Robert Wilson.

    SEPTEMBER 19, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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