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CalArtians Bring Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions to Life at MOCA

Dancers in standing poses holding a rope as audience watches behind them
Simone Forti, Slant Board, 1961, performance with plywood and rope, 10 mins. Performed at MOCA Grand Avenue. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Committee on Media and Performance Art Funds. © 2022 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Photo by Hon Hoang.

Six decades of works by Italian-born postmodern artist Simone Forti are on display in a namesake exhibition, running now through Sunday, April 2 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA). The show is accompanied by weekly performances of Forti’s groundbreaking work Dance Constructions (1960-61), featuring several CalArtians among the performers.

Though best known as a choreographer, the exhibition includes more than 80 visual works and writing from her expansive practice. More about the exhibition from MOCA

Forti can more expansively be understood as an artist who works with movement; looking beyond the Dance Constructions, this exhibition surveys six decades of the artist’s incisive work, elucidating the breadth and depth of her practice through works on paper, videos, holograms, and performance ephemera and documentation. Featuring work from the 1960s through to the present day, Simone Forti is an homage to a towering artist who has forever reframed the dialogue between visual art and contemporary dance.

Concurrent with the exhibition are live performances of three Dance Constructions pieces, which will be presented in succession four times per a day on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays (see event details below for specific times). 

The seminal work, which is a suite of nine pieces total, is based on task-based instructions and often involves simple props like rope and wood. Forgoing traditional concepts of dance in favor of more pedestrian movements, Dance Constructions, as well as Forti’s wider body of performances, have been considered “pivotal to the development of postmodern dance.” Dance Constructions premiered at Reuben Gallery in New York in 1960 and has since inspired succeeding generations of dancers, including Jérôme Bel, Moriah Evans, Gerard & Kelly, and 2021 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts-winning choreographer Will Rawls.

Just as Dance Constructions evolved over time courtesy of the dancers, each of whom tackled the work with diverse bodies and experiences, the CalArtians participating in the MOCA performances reflect several of the Institute’s schools and métiers:

  • Rodrigo Arruda (Art MFA 22)
  • John Burtle (Art BFA 08)
  • Loay Al Derazi (Critical Studies MA 20)
  • Alexsa Durrans (Dance MFA 22)
  • Abriel Gardner (Dance BFA 19)
  • Jason Underhill (Art BFA 05)

“Forti’s performances are living sculptures,” MOCA Associate Curator and exhibition co-curator Alex Sloane was quoted in the official release. “The Dance Constructions are meant to be viewed in the round with Forti drawing attention to the weight and mass of bodies in motion. This exhibition is a full view of Forti’s extraordinary career and her continued exploration of the body in movement, from archival performance documentation, to drawings, video, and holograms, all of which can now be seen in relation to her radical live performances.”

Simone Forti is organized by associate curators Sloane and Rebecca Lowery, alongside Underhill, who serves as the show’s guest curator in addition to performer. Admission is free.

Picture of Taya Zoormandan

Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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CalArtians Bring Simone Forti’s Dance Constructions to Life at MOCA