EAF16 Artist Profile: Madeline Hollander

Madeline Hollander’s project, st, nd, rd, th, th, th…, is a departure from Socrates Sculpture Park’s traditional presentation of sculpture, objects, and installations by presenting performance as sculpture. Throughout the exhibition period, the artist is conducting a series of site-specific performances to explore globally recognized movement notation systems used in public signage for security screenings, safety protocols, and life-saving techniques. As the artist described it, “my piece exposes the irony and challenges of effectively conveying physical movement techniques to a general public, in some cases critical life-saving choreography, and questions our society’s systems and methods for standardizing and disseminating crucial information concerning the body.”

Through performance Hollander simultaneously celebrates and critiques a lack of a standard movement notation here in the United States, despite the ubiquitous appearance of such signage. “I am focusing specifically on the various versions of the Choking Victim & Heimlich Maneuver posters, Pool Safety signage, CPR posters, hand washing instruction, and Airplane Safety cards to generate the movement sequences.” Using these iconic examples, the artist’s choreography reveals the wide range of movement interpretations each protocol contains.

During her summer residency Hollander engaged a close network of friends to offer their interpretations of the images found on various posters she collected. She then translated this informal poll into actual moves, step-by-step, so that the vocabulary for her choreographic sequences is composed entirely of movements and gestures developed by other people trying to interpret the notations. Splicing the choreography from friends and looping them continuously, Hollander transforms these standardized safety procedures into a roving public performance. “The irony lies in the unrecognizability of these dance-like movements to their graphic origin or score, and the difficulty of efficiently conveying nuances of physical protocols, techniques, and sequences without physical demonstration.” There is an absurdity in the visual representation of these procedures that the artist seeks to unveil through these performances.

For her EAF16 project, Hollander has enlisted over twenty dancers and participants to perform abstracted sequences in unison as they comb through the park. “They mimic the official formation of a ‘missing persons’ wilderness search operation, maneuvering around the sculptures, visitors, and physical contours of the park.” In line, the performers remain a specific distance from one another. As they sweep across the landscape, they navigate around sculptures, people, and the park architecture, their formation undulating, expanding, and contracting while demarcating any unusual objects or potential safety hazards with multi-colored survey flags. Similar to her other work, these sequences loop continuously, creating a performance that is more closely related to a moving installation than traditional dance.

Throughout EAF16, Hollander will mount a series of site-specific performances in the park. The next performance will be presented on Saturday, October 15 from 5:15 to 6:15PM. Click here for the full schedule.

st, nd, rd, th, th, th… features dancers Andrew Champlin, Marielis Garcia, Katie Gaydos, Madeline Hollander, Lauren Newman, Maya Orchin, Jeremy Pheiffer, Carolyn Schoerner, Mercedes Searer, and Asami Tomida, as well as a rotating group of participants.

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