Contract and Release dancer Oisín Monaghan performs with an assembly model for Isamu Noguchi’s Strange Bird (1945) by Danny Da Silva, 2019. Photo: Don Stahl. ©INFGM / ARS

The Noguchi Museum announces the schedule of performances for Brendan Fernandes: Contract and Release, a collaboration between the Museum and Fernandes, who works at the intersection of dance and the visual arts. For this project, Fernandes worked with Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart and architecture and design collaborative Norman Kelley to transform the Museum’s collection installation Noguchi: Body-Space Devices into a performance space. There, dancers will interact with Isamu Noguchi’s work as they explore bodies in space, movement, and the ways in which often grueling training techniques—including the Martha Graham technique known as “contract and release,” for which this project is named—may be fetishized.

The hour-long performances will take place at 1:30 and 3:00 pm on most Saturdays from September 2019 through March 2020:
• September 14 and 28, 2019
• October 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2019
• November 2, 9, 16, and 23, 2019
• December 7 and 14, 2019
• January 11, 18, and 25, 2020
• February 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2020
A closing performance will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2020 (time to be announced).

The Noguchi Museum
9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard)
Long Island City, New York

Free with Museum admission
General admission $10
Seniors and students with valid ID $5

Contract and Release is the second iteration in a developing series of autobiographical examinations of the movement vocabularies that are intrinsic to Fernandes’s work. The first, The Master and Form, commissioned by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and presented in the current Whitney Biennial, examined the mastery of balletic form and its relationship to pain and pleasure. In Contract and Release, Fernandes undermines the traditional dichotomy in which ballet embodies the adherence to rigorous technique while modern dance is viewed as free-form. (The third, opening next year at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, will explore shibari, Japanese rope bondage.)

In each one-hour performance of Contract and Release, three dancers will perform various tasks using sculptures as training devices: wooden assembly models of Noguchi’s interlocking sculptures, the artist’s large red Play Sculpture, and six rocking chairs designed by Fernandes and fabricated by furniture maker Jason Lewis. Inspired by the blade-like (non-rocking) rocking chair that Noguchi made for Graham’s iconic Appalachian Spring (1944), Fernandes’s training devices will actually rock, creating an endurance test for dancers as they try to remain balanced while they contract and release their core muscles.
Wearing non-gendered costumes created by innovative designer Rad Hourani and combining patterns of phrasing established by Fernandes, but without a fixed score, the dancers will bring Noguchi and Graham’s joint multidisciplinary legacy into the present, transforming The Noguchi Museum’s galleries into what Noguchi, referring to his sets for Graham, called a space of the mind.

Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is an internationally recognized Canadian artist working at the intersection of dance and the visual arts. Currently based in Chicago, Fernandes creates projects that address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest, and other forms of collective movement, while developing new spaces and new forms of agency. His work takes hybrid forms: part ballet, part queer dance hall, part political protest, and is always rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity.
Fernandes is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program (2007) and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship (2014). Shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award IN 2010, he is the recipient of a 2017 Canada Council New Chapter grant. His projects have been shown at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), and MAC (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal); among many others. The Master and Form is now on view in the Whitney Biennial, at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York). He is currently artist-in-residence and a faculty member at Northwestern University and represented by Monique Meloche Gallery, in Chicago. Upcoming projects in 2019 will be presented at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C.) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago).

The six dancers who perform Contract and Release are:
Héctor Cerna, a contemporary movement artist based in New York City;
Violetta Komyshan, a member of Michele Wiles’s BalletNext;
Victor Lozano, a dancer and choreographer currently performing with Pam Tanowitz Dance, Dance Heginbotham, and Madboots Dance;
Tiffany Mangulabnan, an independent dancer working with a diverse range of choreographers, who in 2016 co-founded konverjdans (with Amy Saunder and Jordan Miller);
Oisín Monaghan, who collaborates widely with visual and performing artists; and
Amy Saunder, who has been freelancing in New York City since 2016, when she co-founded konverjdans with Jordan Miller and Tiffany Mangulabnan.

Norman Kelley was founded in 2012 by architects Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley. Based in Chicago and New Orleans, the firm re-examines the relationship of architecture and design to vision. Norman Kelley has contributed work to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale and, in 2015, the inaugural Chicago Architectural Biennial. In 2014, it received the Architecture League of New York’s Young Architect’s Prize.

Rad Hourani created the first gender-neutral ready-to-wear collection in fashion history. Celebrating neutrality as a defining human trait, Hourani views modernity as an odyssey free of nations, gender, age, race, limits, and conditioning. In January 2013 Hourani was honored to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris.

Jason Lewis’s work draws from both the traditional fine woodworking technique he was trained in and the simple midcentury design that first inspired him. Since 2001, Jason Lewis Furniture has been working directly with clients to provide heirloom quality modern furniture and interesting woodworking of all kinds. He lives and works in Chicago.

Founded in 1985 by Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), one of the leading sculptors and designers of the twentieth century, The Noguchi Museum was the first museum in America to be established, designed, and installed by a living artist to show their own work. Widely viewed as among the artist’s greatest achievements, the Museum comprises ten indoor galleries in a converted factory building, as well as an internationally acclaimed outdoor sculpture garden. Since its founding, it has served as an international hub for Noguchi research and appreciation. In addition to housing the artist’s archives and catalogue raisonné, the Museum exhibits a comprehensive selection of sculpture, models for public projects and gardens, dance sets, and his Akari light sculptures. Provocative, frequently-changing installations drawn from the permanent collection, together with diverse special exhibitions related to Noguchi and the milieu in which he worked, offer a rich, contextualized view of Noguchi’s art and illuminate his enduring influence as a category-defying, multicultural, cross-disciplinary innovator. | @noguchimuseum

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