At least half of Jonah Bokaer’s dances have been designed for museum or gallery spaces, a commitment that continues this year with four of his dances, including three radically different new works. Each is a response to its museum’s singular spatial demands.
Performances include world premieres at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA as part of the SCAD deFINE ART Series, February 18-21; the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Budapest, Hungary, May 25; and the Center for Jewish History in New York City, October 7. Bokaer’s “ECLIPSE,” which premiered at BAM in 2012, will be performed this fall in Paris.
The austere style and moral rigor of Albert Camus’s writings on North Africa are the underlying inspiration for the three premieres. Camus’s political commitment to the idea of resistance against human injustice is interpreted and expressed uniquely in each of Bokaer’s premieres.
“The Rebel (and Other Myths)” is a two-part work: the first is performed February 18, 19 and 20 at the SCAD Museum of Art by Lilja Rúriksdóttir and Laura Gutierrez, who, like unobtrusive live sculptures, quietly move from gallery to gallery over the course of eight nonstop hours each day. The movement is choreographed to respond to the architecture of the museum, while not deflecting attention from the artwork. Bokaer will perform a 40-minute solo, “The Rebel,” in the SCAD Museum of Art Theater on February 21. In each case the body’s resistance is challenged by the severe length of time it is required to perform. The music is Soundwalk Collective’s “Medea Mix.”
For the premiere of “Other Myths” in Hungary, a country not known for its racial, religious or ethnic tolerance, Bokaer has selected five dancers from Eastern European countries, including longtime collaborators Szabi Pataki (Hungary) and Irena Misirlić (Croatia), to challenge governmental prejudice. Each of the performers will provide Bokaer with a chosen Carpathian
myth from their country, which he will interpret and structure choreographically, weaving them into a single work designed for the Ludwig Museum. The music is also by Soundwalk Collective, with field recordings from the Black Sea. There will be no décor, and the lighting will be the natural filtering of sun through the museum windows.
The title of the third museum piece, “October 7, 1944,” refers to the day, 70 years ago, when a group of women were hanged in Auschwitz for detonating a homemade bomb in an effort to destroy the concentration camp’s crematoriums. The women’s resistance is one of the least known but most daring acts of rebellion in Holocaust history. Bokaer’s commemorative work was commissioned by New York City’s Center for Jewish History, where it premieres on October 7.
Bokaer’s “ECLIPSE” will be given its European premiere in Paris’s newest and most architecturally radical museum, designed by Frank Gehry. While the Paris version of “ECLIPSE” will take place beneath Anthony McCall’s stunning light installation, the audience will now be free to move around the four-sided work as the dance proceeds. The sound design is by David Grubbs.