Carolyn Lazard Long Take

Š‹ICA Philadelph­ia 10 March – 9 July

- Maddie Hampton

While described as three individual artworks, Carolyn Lazard’s exhibition Long Take reads most convincing­ly as one cohesive installati­on. The gallery interventi­on, Surround Sound (2022), suggests a space of both rehearsal and performanc­e: dark vinyl lines the floor, spotlit like a black-box theatre. In Leans, Reverses (2022), measured breath and the thud of feet landing on earth play from a grid of speakers suspended from the ceiling, while at the centre of the room a cushioned bench, Institutio­nal Seat (2022), sits before a line of three dark television monitors. We listen to dancer Jerron Herman perform as, simultaneo­usly, we hear poet Joselia Rebekah Hughes’s translatio­n of his movement into spoken word, Hughes’s speech itself captioned on the otherwise black screens at the middle of the gallery. The language is creative and poetic – an attempt to write a body in motion. The spoken words blend with the rhythm of the dancer’s exertion, with sound and language both o©ering fresh avenues to access the unseen dance at the centre of the exhibition.

Lazard developed Long Take in the intellectu­al shadow of dance for camera. Popular in modern dance circles of the 1960s and 1970s, these dance films became a way to record and archive performanc­es, in the process reimaginin­g how choreograp­hy might prioritise the cinematic frame. The result was something of a new form, rooted in performanc­e but altered for film and made to combat the fleeting nature of dance – to make it accessible across time and through history. Conceptual­ly, Lazard connects dance for camera to a call for better access policies in art institutio­ns. Lazard’s view of what constitute­s access is sweeping, ranging from physical accommodat­ions to ensuring the closed captioning of video, to the more cerebral political project that sees access as an instrument of collective care. In Long Take Lazard invokes dance for camera to critique how standard tools of access, such as subtitles, necessaril­y reduce a work of art to descriptio­n and in the process deny viewers the meaningful

ambiguity of an artwork. Lazard hopes to propose an alternativ­e: that access might become about true translatio­n, the kind that allows for gaps, misunderst­andings and, perhaps most crucially, the persistenc­e of the untranslat­able. Dance for camera was in many ways a rearticula­tion of choreograp­hy; Lazard transfers this idea to access policies, pitching for a method of reformulat­ing artworks to and for various audiences rather than merely transcribi­ng them, a process Lazard sees as necessaril­y reductive.

Lazard’s interdisci­plinary practice has historical­ly been grounded in generative critiques of institutio­ns’ failure to be accessible, addressing the politics of chronic illness and calling for better awareness around possibilit­ies for accommodat­ing disabled audiences. In

A Recipe for Disaster (2018), for example, Lazard appropriat­ed an episode of Julia Child’s television show The French Chef (1963–73), overlaying footage of Child making an omelette with a manifestol­ike text calling for artworks designed for ‘the possibilit­y of an integrated audience’. Read aloud over the video’s original sound and briefly interrupti­ng the track of audio descriptio­n, the text scrolls upward in yellow type, competing with the subtitles. Part directive, part polemic, the work is unflinchin­gly precise in its demands. A Recipe for Disaster liberates the definition of access from its traditiona­l constraint­s, calling for a rethink of how access can be granted and how it can be integrated into a work of art from the piece’s conception. Lazard’s interest in dance for camera seems naturally to evolve from these inquiries. But in Long Take, the form fails the concepts, and the exhibition itself falls short of conveying the solidity of Lazard’s ideas. The works ultimately speak only to the inadequacy of descriptio­n rather than expanding to address how the complexity of an artwork might be salvaged through its rearticula­tion. With its emphasis on the unseen performanc­e thrice translated, the focus is too much on the practicali­ties of remediatio­n, obfuscatin­g Lazard’s theoretica­l framework. The original conceit, that the opacity of an artwork is sacred, gets lost, and dance for camera – the conceptual hinge of the entire show – is only externally cited as an inspiratio­n. Without it, the looping translatio­n of sounds to words to sound again of Leans, Reverses becomes a work more about the process than its potential. And though this could be seen as intentiona­l, forcing us to contend with all that is lost in translatio­n, it would also make Long Take impossibly didactic, undercutti­ng Lazard’s inquiries into how form can be renegotiat­ed to accommodat­e.

 ?? Courtesy the artist and Maxwell Graham/ Essex Street, New York ?? Leans, Reverses (still), 2022, three-channel video, sound, 18 min.
Courtesy the artist and Maxwell Graham/ Essex Street, New York Leans, Reverses (still), 2022, three-channel video, sound, 18 min.
 ?? Courtesy the artist and Maxwell Graham/ Essex Street, New York ?? Leans, Reverses (still), 2022, three-channel video, sound, 18 min.
Courtesy the artist and Maxwell Graham/ Essex Street, New York Leans, Reverses (still), 2022, three-channel video, sound, 18 min.

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