The Hayward Gallery’s Move: Choreographing You delivers exactly what the title promises – the audience becomes the players, moving in, on, around, and through a myriad of (mostly) participatory artworks. The traditional relationship between the performers and the audience completely collapses as our hands-on experience not only takes center stage but also quite literally activates the work. Watching people maneuver the exhibition, a heightened energy buzzes through the Hayward’s building (one that, despite its Brutalist style, I’m always amazed at how uniquely each exhibition adapts to the space) because our interactions aren’t merely breaking down the physical boundaries of touching artworks – we are becoming the work.
Typically when confronted with interactive performative (and particularly dance) art, I tend to become a bit anti-authoritarian because I generally prefer to negotiate art on my own terms rather than be forced by someone else. Fortunately this exhibition is ‘Move’ and not ‘Push’. Still it’s surprising that Tania Bruguera’s installation Untitled (Kassel) (2002), one of the most demanding works of relinquished control, proved to be a provocative push right up my alley. Rather than spoil all the fun, I’ll just say that it involves walking single-file through an intensely lit and hot corridor where the audience is confronted with certain sounds and a temporary piercing darkness. It’s as intense and it is satisfying.
Move: Choreographing You also conflates history, bringing historical by pieces by pioneering performers into a contemporary context: Trisha Brown’s The Steam (1970), Simone Forti’s Huddle (1961) and Hangers (1961), and Dan Graham’s eerily relevant Present Continuous Past(s) (1974) are some of the examples. Christian Jankowski’s reflexive Rooftop Routine pays homage to Brown’s 1973 Roofpiece. It also reminded me that I can still hula-hoop. These works are now rendered dateless and Move shows how their relevance transcends a time period classification.
Probably the most important thing this exhibition calls attention to is that museum visitors are always navigating their way through art, physically or mentally, regardless of the medium. The direct, personal, shared experience is only way to grasp understanding and the Hayward has created a playground where the audience becomes aware of their body and the body’s of others within the confines of a fabulously fixed space. Go. Now.