Experimental dance artist Simone Forti has been doing News Animations, as she calls them, since 1982. Now 77, Forti is still doing them. As I understand the concept, Forti begins with journal writings based on news articles she reads, and from there creates improvised dances with dialogue. The Hammer Museum has included five News Animation performances in its Made in L.A. 2012 exhibition, and I caught one Thursday evening in a Hammer Museum gallery. Reading from one of Forti’s journals, exhibition curator Cesar Garcia helped introduce the concept; think of the descriptive language that reporters use, such as the economy is in “free fall” or a”stream” of consumers, and so on. Forti is inspired by the events she reads about, but also by the use of language. She explores the relationships between words, ideas and natural body movements.
The last time I saw her perform was in 2004 at a historic Getty Center performance shared with Yvonne Rainer. As I recall, Forti did dozens of pushups, during that show. She is considerably more frail now, but still questing, still able to roll about the ground, her mind still jumping amongst different topics in a lively, spontaneous way, despite the occasional forgotten name. On Thursday she performed with Batyah Schachter, a longtime collaborator from Israel, and the women talked about war and security, Israel and Syria. They could have been sitting in a cafe having tea. They finished each’s others sentences, and gently glided inside a circle of about 100 spectators. Their 30-minute dance was intimate in scale and the gestures were delicate, sometimes illustrative of the words they spoke and sometimes symbolic. My favorite part: Chatting away, Forti asked rhetorically, what advice would she give to future generations? “I have no idea. No idea!” she proclaimed, flummoxed, slightly alarmed, as she lay on her back, her legs and arms dangling skyward, like a baby seeking to be picked up for comforting. The crowd laughed warmly.
My advice is go see her, if you can. The remaining performances are a solo show at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Hammer and a duet with Fred Dewey at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. They are free.
Photo above of Simone Forti performing her News Animation improvisations June 12, 2012. Courtesy of LA><ART, Culver City.