July 7, 2021

Photo Gallery: New Performance-Installation Examines Relationships Between Moving Bodies, Objects

Art returned to the Hurley Gallery with Two Person Operating System Type 2, a collaboration between choreographer Susan Marshall and artist Martha Friedman, both Lewis Center for the Arts faculty members, with dancers Ching-I Chang, Dare Ayorinde, Miriam Gabriel and Luke Miller.

In the performance-installation event on June 29 and 30 before small, invited and masked audiences, Friedman and Marshall sought to engage viewers to think about the sensory experience of inhabiting a body, and touching or navigating inanimate and animate bodies outside their own. Working with industrial objects and materials, dancers activated two sculptures of metal tubes and spikes created by Friedman in complex patterns, probing preconceptions of the material boundaries of the body.

Long, fleshy rubber ropes were inserted, spooled and twisted through the sculpture by the dancers engaging with the objects and each other in a series of methodical tasks performed with worker precision. The evolving patterns of action and design explored the tensions between work and product, danger and intimacy, absurdity and purpose, soft and hard, in and out. This served to complicate expectations of clear, binary contrasts often raised in gendered conversations about physical bodies.

The first iteration of this project, Two Person Operating System (2016), was shown in galleries in New York and San Francisco, a found warehouse in Brooklyn, and the project was covered in Artforum and The New Yorker, among other media. Subsequent iterations of this evolving series of works will be performed at varied venues across the country.

Two Person Operating System Type 2 is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts and generous individuals.

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