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William Forsythe: Transfigurations


Monster Partitur, 2006, detail

William Forsythe

Wexner Center Residency Award

Apr 2, 2009–July 26, 2009

See the first presentation in this country of a significant body of vanguard American choreographer William Forsythe's gallery-based video and installation projects.

Forsythe, who received the 2002 Wexner Prize, has revolutionized classical ballet for our time with his bold, contemporary works, and he's widely viewed as the greatest innovator in his field since George Balanchine. Since launching the Forsythe Company as an independent platform in 2004 (after the closure of the Frankfurt Ballet, his longtime base of operations), Forsythe has been extending his choreographic thinking into new forms such as installations for gallery and public spaces, video, digital media, and publications. For Forsythe, these projects are part of a larger sphere of interest he terms "choreographic objects." In Transfigurations, you'll see how the dance maker and performer, developing his concepts through working from the body, is now projecting his ideas into new mediums and new ways of presentation.

On view are several of Forsythe's key video installations, which range from playful interactive invitations for the viewer to "dance" to perception-bending meditations on the body in motion in space. In addition, you can explore a new web project, Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced, which Forsythe developed at Ohio State in collaboration with the Department of Dance and Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).

During the opening days of the exhibition, visitors saw the U.S. premiere of Monster Partitur, a poignant hybrid performance installation, during multiple free performances in the gallery itself. The piece is a condensation of and companion to Forsythe's Bessie Award–winning You made me a monster. Although that performance cycle is now over, Monster Partitur remains on view in Transfigurations as an installation work. Sculptural elements and line drawings created from life-size models of human skeletons and a riveting text by Forsythe create a charged space that evokes both presence and absence. Student volunteers from Ohio State's Department of Dance worked with members of the Forsythe Company during the company's residency to produce this installation. (See photos of the students at work on our Flickr pages.)

The exhibition is mounted in conjunction with the launch of the Synchronous Objects web project and also featured a free opening day symposium that delved into Forsythe’s concepts of choreographic objects. All three events continue the sustained relationship between Forsythe and Ohio State that began when he visited the campus to receive the Wexner Prize in 2002. During that visit, the choreographer's first to the center and the university, his charismatic presence and intellectual curiosity energized a master class and several discussions attended by students, faculty, staff, and community members. Individually and collectively, these projects reflect the kind of cross-disciplinary collaborations through which the university has established and maintains its profile as a leader in arts research and innovation.

Charles Helm, the Wexner Center’s director of performing arts, serves as curator for the exhibition. Organized by the Wexner Center.

The exhibition William Forsythe: Transfigurations is made possible at the Wexner Center with support from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius and from the Contemporary Art Centers network, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), with major support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Battelle Endowment for Technology and Human Affairs. The exhibition is also made possible through the Wexner Center Residency Award program.

The web project Synchronous Objects for One Flat Thing, reproduced by William Forsythe is coproduced by The Forsythe Company with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design and the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University. Funding is provided by The Forsythe Company, The Forsythe Foundation, The Ohio State University Office of Research, Rotterdamse Dansacademie/Codarts, and Tanzplan Deutschland, an initiative created by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

The Forsythe Company is supported by the city of Dresden and the state of Saxony as well as the city of Frankfurt am Main and the state of Hesse. The Forsythe Company is also supported by Mrs. Susanne Klatten. Additional support is provided by Ernst & Young.

Continue reading for complete image credits.

William Forsythe
Antipodes I / II, 2006
Still from two-channel video
Performer: William Forsythe

William Forsythe
City of Abstracts
Photos copyright Julian Gabriel Richter, courtesy The Forsythe Company

William Forsythe
Monster Partitur, 2006
Photo copyright Surface, courtesy The Forsythe Company

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