October 2016 – Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain MiniEvent (performed in the Wexner Center Gallery)
October 2016 – Manual Cinema: Ada/Ava (performed in the Wexner Performance Space)
November 2016 – Eastman/Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Fractus V (performed in the Speaker Jo Ann Davidson Theatre at the Riffe Center)
I have had the fortune to see all three of these performances while they were in Columbus. Through these works, I found that each engaged my awareness of the audience’s role in the always participatory nature of viewing art.
For the Black Mountain MiniEvent, the audience itself was rather large to view a small area of space. I therefore saw the movement of the Merce Cunningham MiniEvent through the limbs of other observers. The audience shaped my perception of what happened on the dance floor. In movements closer to the ground, maybe I caught a set of fingertips or shapes made by the lower leg. For leaps and high-planed steps I saw a head pop up amongst the crowd. Still, stationed bodies framed my personal version of the dances. Additionally for the audience to view, this concert included the piano and musicians who engaged in playing sounds composed by John Cage.
Similar to viewing the technical element of sound in the Black Mountain MiniEvent, Manual Cinema presented their concert Ada/Ava where the projected shadow-puppet story was only half of the visible show. This work additionally engaged the audience by allowing us to view simultaneously the work that went behind the puppeteering. As an audience member I got to see the “behind the scenes” of the projection work. Musicians, movers, and technicians were all given equal roles enacted through their obvious visibility to the audience. This allowed me to feel a part of the work created.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Fractus V, the most recent dance concert to tour through Columbus, worked to engage my individuality as an audience member. This happened through the work’s stress on the importance of different personalities creating together. I felt comfortable in my ability to view the work with all of my own histories to inform me, alongside the information Fractus V provided. This work also incorporated musicians, their instruments, and moving set pieces as additional technical elements VISIBLE throughout the work.
Moving forwards I am pleased to know that the audience always has a role to play in the active observing of an individual piece of art, or of an art form as a whole. We are individuals with different histories that inform our daily perceptions of reality, and we therefore see artistic works through multiple lenses probably different than those of the audience member sitting (or standing) next to you.