Floor of the Forest

Floor of the forest

On Saturday, April 20, I arrived at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles before ten in the morning. Throughout the day, intriguing paintings, large scale monuments, and human made artifacts unfolded one by one before my eyes inside the museum galleries, making my visit inspirational. I also enjoyed an array of art from artists such as: Latifa Echaktch, Llyn Foulkes, Adam Helms, and Jason Meadows.

Moreover, around noon, a dance performance, “Forest of the Floor,” by Trisha Brown, captured the attention of the museum visitors, including myself. The stage was opened by two dancers climbing onto an sculpture positioned in the centre of the museum’s courtyard. The installation itself consisted of four vertical, black metal posts that were holding a horizontal squared plane, elevated four feet off the ground. Seen from above, the Floor of the Forest revealed itself as a collage that was threaded with multi color clothing, arranged arbitrarily on a grid formed by thick brownish ropes that were tied perpendicularly each direction. Suspended in the air, the two dancers started with what would be a 20 minute presentation full of their careful and painstakingly slow movements. The dancers remained soundless and no music was playing as they danced, but more intriguingly, they would dress and undress themselves from the clothing that hung, and they would do this horizontally. A normal activity that we all perform standing up.

Every time the dancers repositioned themselves on the elevated grid; they negotiated with gravity to stay in the platform as if searching one another inside this network, also enabling them to give a sense of location in the grid to their audience. But as the sequence of the dancers advanced, I myself decided to reposition myself a story higher to photograph their moves from an aerial view before leaving the museum at the end of the performance. Being upstairs, I was able to see how the dancers became also a human collage when suspended in the elevated grid, and I also noticed that I was dancing too by taking different perspectives to capture my shots. The end of the presentation concluded my visit as well, and I concluded that this sculpture enables different perspectives of the vertical and horizontal planes.

  1. Ivan – great analysis of this dance piece, particularly in the last paragraph where you talked about gravity; Brown’s choreography asks audiences to take note of everyday actions by repositioning them and in doing so they discover challenges such as gravity; in this case she literally rotates the vertical datum of the body 90 degrees. The one part of your post that is not accurate is your description about the presentation being “full of their dynamic and acrobatic moves” – their movement is anything but acrobatic; it is what all of us do everyday, but disoriented.

  2. Thanks Rennie, I stand incorrect: “Acrobatic is motion.” I will look into either rephrasing it or removing it, however, I would like to add that the connection I made in my mind was that the movements these dancers were doing as the presentation moved along were a difficult as the one from an acrobat, and there was a certain degree of difficulty. I guess both move with difficulty but in a totally different plane. Thanks again! Ivan

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