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MARIA HASSABI Selected works

Maria Hassabi portfolio 2016 Courtesy The Breeder Athens

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Maria Hassabi / Portfolio / Courtesy The Breeder, Athens

Text of Maria Hassabi portfolio 2016 Courtesy The Breeder Athens

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  • WORKS(%(2009'6'2015)

  • PLASTIC%(2015)


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  • 11

  • PLASTIC%(2015):%Hammer%Museum,%Los%Angeles.'Installa+on%view,%Gallery%6


  • PLASTIC%(2015):%Hammer%Museum,%Los%Angeles.'Installa+on%view,%Gallery%6


  • 1

  • 2Youre confronted with someone lying in front of you as you walk up a stair-case on your way to the galleries at The Museum of Modern Art. Is she asleep? Is she unconscious? She moves but remains prone and in your way. Do you help? Turn away? Stop and keep looking? Over the past decade, choreographer and artist Maria Hassabi has developed a distinct movement language she calls the velocity of deceleration.1 In PLASTIC (2015), Hassabi and her cast of more than a dozen dancers move at a barely perceptible pace down two of MoMAs most visible staircases and across its iconic Marron Atrium, where the artist has placed seating borrowed from across the Museums public spaces. Shifting from one position to another, the performers recall images of repose, collapse, and transition. A sound score designed by Morten Norbye Halvorsen, with song fragments by Marina Rosenfeld, accompanies their movements. The live installation a term Hassabi coinedis performed continuously during opening hours, reformatting the duration of a theatrical performance as a month-long museum

    exhibition. Taking place underfoot in the transitional spaces of a museum known for its crowds, the work can be seen from multiple vantage points and inverts the typical relationship between performer and viewer so that it is the dancer who appears static and the onlooker who moves. Since 1999, Hassabis choreography has explored the experience of intense looking: its limits and possibilities. In PREMIERE (2013), upon entering the theater, viewers were confronted by five performers in distinct poses, situated between two bright walls constructed of dozens of theatrical lights. Without the performers entrance, the dance seemed to be already in progress, but in fact it beganindeed, premieredwith the audiences arrival. Likewise, INTERMISSION (2013), developed for a former gymnasium that housed the Cypriot and Lithuanian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, reflected its title as the dancers stood and stretched according to set choreography, provid-ing pause from the main exhibitions frenetic energy. Like PLASTIC, Hassabis earlier works toy with or erase the

    Maria Hassabi. INTERMISSION. 2013. Performed at the Cypriot and Lithuanian Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, May 28

    June 4, 2013. With Phanos Kyriacous installation, Eleven hosts, twenty-one guests, nine ghosts (2013). Courtesy the artist. Photo by Robertas Narkus



    Thomas J. Lax Associate Curator, Department of

    Media and Performance Art

  • 4 5

    stillness, giving us time to consider them as pictures flooded with multiple references. For example, the dancers rounded torsos and twisted limbs at once resemble images of falling bodies, made readily accessible in a culture saturated by documentation of war, and nineteenth-century paintings of odalisques, Orientalist fantasies of concubines lying on erotic display. Oscillating between these references, the dancers embody power and submis-sion, using banal movement to create spectacular scenes. Like photographs without captions, the performers seem to inhabit shots captured by someone else and projected onto them by the viewers gaze. Hassabis interest in images builds on a history of choreography, partic-ularly in the United States since the 1960s, that is self-conscious about its relationship to photography. In Steve Paxtons Flat (1964), for example, which

    he dubbed a photographic score-cata-logue,3 a solo male performer takes on everyday poses, often holding them for up to fifteen seconds. He walks, sits down, gets up, puts on a series of outfits, standing still throughout, and in the process calls into question what constitutes a dance.4 In Yvonne Rainers Performance Documentation (1968), three slide carousels project documentation of her dance Stairs. In a series of photographs, performers are shown climbing and descending a short staircase and interacting with foam props, their bodies resembling the materials with which they inter-act; they become, in Rainers words, theater-objects.5 Used in this way, photography becomes a structuring paradox, art historian Carrie Lambert-Beatty has argued, in which the felt body of the dancer is both intensely present and . . . already a trace.6 The interface of photography and dance

    Maria Hassabi. The Ladies. 2012. Performers (left to right): Biba Bell and Sarah Beth Percival.

    Still from video, color, sound, 10 min. Courtesy the artist

    Maria Hassabi. PREMIERE. 2013. Performed at The Kitchen, New York, as part of Performa 13, November 69, 2013. Performers (left to right): Maria Hassabi, Andros Zins-Browne, Hristoula Harakas,

    Biba Bell, and Robert Steijn. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Paula Court

    the performers, apparently finding the ladies either alluring or disconcerting. What exactly is threatening about Hassabis stilled movement? Hassabis practice deals with, in her words, the relationship of a body to images,2 and she often composes her work as a pictorial sequence. To make SoloShow (2009), for example, she selected over three hundred iconic images of the female figure from across history and mediumsfrom ancient sculpture to contemporary hip-hop pub-licity photoswhich she then embodied, shifting from one pose to another for an hour on a large black pedestal surrounded with bright white lights. Similarly, in PLASTIC, Hassabi and her dancers dont simply move slowly from one pose to the next. Rather, they juxtapose movement with prolonged

    viewing conventions of their sites, encouraging viewers to become more aware of their own experience of looking and the ways in which that act individu-alizes every performance. In 2012, Hassabi made The Ladies, a short video derived from footage of guerrilla performances that took place over two months across Manhattan. Duos of female performers dressed in black clothing, sunglasses, and bright red lipstickthe routine fashion of New Yorks art sceneshowed up on subway platforms and street corners, in galleries, and at cafs and demonstra-tions to stand still, look, and be looked at. When they arrived at The Museum of Modern Art, they were asked to leave because their action was interpreted as disruptive. Hassabis video records the public both ignoring and staring at

  • 76

    Maria Hassabi. PLASTIC. 2015. Rehearsal at MoMA, October 30, 2015. Performer: Maria Hassabi.

    Photo by Julieta Cervantes. 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

  • 8 9

    the figure fused with its ground as nomadic or homeless because it carries its own context.8 Like Adle, Hassabi and her dancers stay close to the ground, appearing to be absorbed by the floor as their heads are obscured and their limbs often remain out of sight. Rodins fragmenting of the body was informed by his collection of Greek and Roman figurative sculptures, which were often without their original limbs. Hassabis work bears a similarly trun-cated relationship to ancient mythology, in which artists everywhere bring statues to life. In Ovids Pygmalion, for example, the celibate sculptor carves a woman out of ivory. He is so enamored with his own skill that he falls for her and asks the goddess Venus to turn her into a real woman. Ovid writes that Pygmalion speaking love, caresses it with loving hands that seem to make an impress, on the parts they touch, so real that he fears he then may bruise her by his eager pressing.9 As it becomes she, the line between affec-tion and harm is as thin as the one between the inanimate and the living. For Hassabi, who is choreographer and dancer, artist and model, the intimacy between human subject and artistic object is ground zero. Hassabis work is filled with the tension between abjection and exalta-tion. She describes her references in a string of incongruous associations: junkies in the middle of the street . . . luxurious figures at rest . . . a person forgotten in a corner of the city . . . people simply staring, sitting, standing.10 What unifies these figures is their unproductiveness: they are avatars of what appears to be a breakdown in

    a manufacturing chain. But just as their apparent stillness is an illusion, so is that of PLASTICs dancers their seeming passivity is actually the result of physical attention and virtuosity. PLASTIC is animated by this kind of artifice. The works staginess is self-conscious, inviting spectacle in order to exhaust it. For example, the performers costumes of gray blouses and jeans, to which the collective threeASFOUR applied rhinestones, are both neutral and decorated, giving their glamour an evacuated feel. Likewise, the work neither embraces nor refuses narrative, instead prolonging the view-ers perception of it.11 It is impossible to anticipate where it is going; instead you experience it as an accumulation of the here and now. Dispersed to the periphery of the Museums Marron Atrium and stair-casesthe frame of the buildingthe performers repeat the same choreog-raphy like automatons unaware of one another. Choreography has long been structured as a series of dance phrases that are performed simultaneously by a group of dancers or repeated over the course of a performance so that they achieve symbolic and dramatic effect.

    creates tension between the performing subject and his treatment as an object, between the actual physical form of a live body and her photographic mediation. PLASTICs performers extend two- dimensional photographic images into three-dimensional space. Many of their poses can be described using the language of classical Western sculpture, beginning with the figure who stands contrapposto with his weight on one foot, suggesting past and future movement and fusing equipoise with tension. But in its use of space, PLASTIC bears the hallmark of modern sculpture: it is meant to be seen from all sides as opposed to frontally, the way it would be in a traditional proscenium theater. In this regard, it is illuminating to consider Hassabis work in relation to Auguste Rodins7 sculpture Torso of Adle. The artist molded this sensu-ous headless female figure from clay, by hand, in front of his model, Adle Abbruzzesi, and then joined her likeness to a wooden base so that the pedestal became part of the artwork. Art his-torian Rosalind Krauss has described

    Hassabi, however, sequences her move-ment on a loop that each performer dances over several hours, making the repetitions nearly unrecognizable. While the choreography is set and reproduced multiple times a day for more than thirty days, at any given moment the dancers nevertheless appear to be distinct from one another. PLASTIC thus sits uncannily between multiple mediumsphotography, sculpture, the digital loopas it circulates charged and associative images inspired by the world. Without any contextual informa-tion, the meaning of the performers bodily contortions is plastic. The per-formers at once embody real scenarios and their representations, making it difficult to distinguish whether they are unconscious or resting, self-sufficient or in a state of crisis. As they move across the floor and down the stairs vertical pathways, they recall recognizable but absent figures. He breathes and his muscles tremble. You see tears well up in his left eye as his muscles quiver. He squints. The tremors and quakes are not signs of weakness or vulnerability; they are nonverbal, involuntary surface messages about the physical effects of time and arduous activity on the body. While these gestures may look like pain, they are the dancers nervous system commu-nicating the physical effects of the duration of gravity and downward motion to anyone who might look long enough to see them.12 Perhaps youll have an encounter with the performer; maybe youll disregard him. But if you glance at the dance, if you become part of it, you might see something made familiar within its loop.

    Yvonne Rainer. Stairs. 1968. From The Mind Is a Muscle. Photo by Peter Moore. Barbara Moore/

    Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NY

    Auguste Rodin. Torso of Adle. Before 1884. Terracotta, 4 165 14 43 6 167 " (11 37.5 16.4 cm). Photo by Christian Baraja. Courtesy Muse Rodin

  • 11

    Maria Hassabi. SHOW. 2011.Performed at Le Mouvement: Performing the City, Biel, Switzerland, August 2631, 2014. Performers (left to right): Hristoula Harakas

    and Maria Hassabi. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Alex Safari Kangangi


    Please see moma.org/mariahassabi for a commissioned essay by Tim Griffin, Executive Director and Chief Curator, The Kitchen, and for the performers bios.

    1 See conversation between Maria Hassabi and Victoria Marks, The Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts, http://herbalpertawards.org/artist/chapter-one-0.

    2 See Maria Hassabi and Scott Lyall, interview by Lauren Bakst, BOMB, February 11, 2014, http://bombmagazine.org/article/1000022/scott-lyall-and-maria-hassabi.

    3 Steve Paxton with Liza Bar, Like the Famous Tree . . ., Avalanche 11 (Summer 1975): 26.

    4 Sally Banes, Vital Signs: Steve Paxtons Flat in Perspective, in Writing Dancing in the Age of Postmodernism (Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), pp. 227239.

    5 Yvonne Rainer, Dont Give the Game Away, Arts Magazine 41, no. 6 (April 1967): 47.

    6 Carrie Lambert-Beatty, Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s (Cambridge, MIT Press: 2008), pp. 158, 160.

    7 It is particularly fitting that Rodins Monument to Balzac (1898), which is in MoMAs collec-tion, is often installed on the platform at the bottom of the staircase on which PLASTIC takes place.

    8 See Rosalind Krauss, Sculpture in the Expanded Field, October 8 (Spring 1979): 34.

    Maria Hassabi is in conversation with Philip Bither, William and Nadine McGuire Director and Senior Curator, Performing Arts, Walker Art Center, on February 24 at 7pm in the Marron Atrium. Please visit moma.org/mariahassabi for video documentation.

    9 Publius Ovidius Naso, Pygmalion and the Statue, in Metamorphoses, trans. Brookes More (Boston: Cornhill Publishing Co., 1922), p. 243.

    10 Maria Hassabi, e-mail message to author, January 21, 2016.

    11 The author thanks Will Rawls for drawing his attention to this point.

    12 Victoria Gray makes a similar argument in her article The Choreography of Anticipation in Maria Hassabis PREMIERE, TDR: The Drama Review 59, no. 3 (Fall 2015): 15057.

    Cover Image: Maria Hassabi. PLASTIC. 2015. Rehearsal at MoMA, October 30, 2015. Performer: Maria Hassabi. Photo by James Fair. 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

    Thanks to Stuart Comer, Kathy Halbreich, Maria Hassabi, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Ana Janevski, Martha Joseph, and Will Rawls for their feedback on earlier versions of this essay, and to Sara Bodinson, Jenna Madison, and Maria Marchenkova for editing it; to Eva Bochem-Shur, Claire Corey, and Tony Lee for designing this brochure and the exhibitions graphic identity; to Mack Cole-Edelsack for overseeing the exhibition design; and to Cara Manes and Ann Temkin for their support.

    The artist gratefully acknowledges the Jerome Foundation, Abrons Arts Center, collective address, The French Institute Alliance Franaise (FIAF), Kaaitheater, and MoMA PS1.


  • Maria Hassabi: PLASTIC is co-commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. At MoMA the exhibition is organized by Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, and is produced by Lizzie Gorfaine, Performance Producer, with Kate Scherer, Assistant Performance Coordinator. Major support for the MoMA presentation is provided by MoMAs Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation and by The Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions. Generous funding is provided by The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art and The Modern Womens Fund.


    PLASTIC is on view in The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby staircase, The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, and

    the wooden staircase between the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries. On Fridays, PLASTIC is performed only in the Marron Atrium.

    PERFORMERS:The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium and The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby staircase: Hristoula Harakas, Maria Hassabi, Molly Lieber, Paige Martin, and Oisn Monaghan

    Staircase between fourth- and fifth-floor galleries: Michael Hell, Niall Jones, Tara Lorenzen, and Mickey Mahar

    The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium: Simon Courchel, Jessie Gold, Neil Greenberg, Elizabeth Hart, Kennis Hawkins, Niall Jones, Shelley Senter, RoseAnne Spradlin, and David Thomson

    SOUND DESIGN: Morten Norbye Halvorsen

    SONG FRAGMENTS: Marina Rosenfeld




    Staircase between the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries

    Garden Lobby staircase

    The Agnes Gund Garden Lobby

    The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium

    5th Floor

  • 14

  • 1by Tim GriffinLiving Contradiction

    When first taking account of Maria Hassabis PLASTIC (2015), audiences might initially reconsider just what it means to perform. For during the past decade, the production and reception of performance has radically shifted, if only by virtue of performances increasingly prominent role within museums, galleries, and alternative spaces usually reserved for visual artwhere it is set among aestheticized objects and images, frequently becoming subject to a subtle pictorialization. Contrary to performances framing in recent art history as a discipline revolving around ephemeral events and actions executed in the immediate presence of audience members, performance in the contemporary context (and, more specifically, in the white cube) often remains at a quiet remove, even when a performer is ostensibly within arms reach. In other words, performance is something primarily to be seen rather than encountered. And this imagistic quality has only been amplified as performances in museums and galleries are often oriented toward other moments in time, either modeled after photographic documentation of performances from the pastobtaining, in effect, the virtual sensibility of a picture rendered in spaceor anticipating their

    own photographic reproduction and circulation as so many images in turn.1

    Such shifts in how performance is put forward as a medium have necessitated a shift in even the most basic language for how performance is evaluated in art today: To perform within the context of contemporary art is to embrace a contradictionbetween object and image, and between singular and circulated eventthat is only now being recognized and urgently engaged as such by a new generation of artists and their audiences.

    Amid this ambiguous backdrop, Maria Hassabis practice is remarkably resonant. Known for choreographies whose fantastically slow unfolding heightens such changing relationships between corporeality and pictorialism, Hassabi reflexively places herself at the very interstice of our competing understandings of performance today. In a 2015 artists statement, she goes so far as to acknowledge explicitly that her work is centered on the relation of body to image, draw[ing] its strength from the tension between the human subject and the artistic object, with her performers (who work close to the ground) assuming an uncanny sculptural quality.2 Accordingly, even when Hassabi is working in an explicitly theatrical setting, she is apt to use titles such as SHOWemphasizing the moment of presentation and display inextricably bound to the beginning of any temporal arc onstagewhile nevertheless destabilizing conventional demarcations of performer and viewer, underscoring the physical reality bound within any constructed illusion. Looking at photographic documentation of SHOW, for example, one finds Hassabi and her partner, dancer Hristoula Harakas, nearly entwined with one another, surrounded by a tightly packed crowd of audience members who clearly share not only the stage but also the productions demanding physical parameters. Just as the dancers are contorted on the floor, executing only the most minute actions, so the audience must labor to be perfectly still and attentive, effectively mirroring such action in a minor mode, inevitably becoming aware of their own physical positioning. Gravity and pressure pointsand even boredomregister palpably, in both musculature and mind. The audience assumes a material presence, both for itself and within the larger scope of Hassabis work.

    The implications of this audience engagement along such visual and corporeal axes are all the more provocative given that Hassabi is among the few choreographers today who regularly shuttles between theater and gallery contexts, even presenting the same works (to say nothing of the same choreographic modes) in these different settings. Such restaging inevitably provides Hassabis various works with different valences, putting on display not only different

    Maria Hassabi. PLASTIC. 2015. Rehearsal, The Museum of Modern Art, October 30, 2015. Performer: Hristoula Harakas. Photograph 2016 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

  • 2aspects of her practice but also the different effects produced by varying institutional settings and their distinct protocols. To offer the plainest explanation here: audiences in galleries are typically mobilewith viewing hours allowing for sporadic visits to the performance spacewhereas those in theaters are often seated for a specific duration, which subsequently creates a kind of parallel, if distinct, experience for performer and viewers. So it is that SHOW would (after its premiere at The Kitchen in New York) be presented at Antwerps Middelheim Museum and Kunsthall Oslo, among other venues, where audiences could easily circumnavigate cool, open gallery spaces, able to contemplate the dancers more in passing and with a kind of intellectual detachment. By contrast, the same work in its theatrical version, while retaining the stuff of images, still harbors one material element that cannot be reproduced: those who experienced this work in person will recall the rooms gradually increasing temperature, with the works intense lighting generating enough heat to make the space nearly suffocating. Just as the body was no longer transparent for audiences in this situation, so the physical apparatus of the theater itself (bodily positioning writ large) became apparent not through deconstruction but instead through heightened intensity.

    This underscores a crucial transition in choreographyand even suggests an outright inversion of its termsduring the past half century. Consider how Hassabis choreography evokes, for many critics

    of her work, the example of legendary choreographer Steve Paxton, whose proposition of small dance during the 1970s revolved around the premise of dancers doing nothing more than standing. The model suggests choreography composed simply of what the structural scaffolding behind physiognomy (skeleton and tissue, here in dialogue with the pull of gravity) allows. And indeed, seen through the prism of such work, Hassabis choreographic practice may also be said to gravitate to and put forward a set of material possibilitiesfor example, the body as a structural scaffold. Yet integral to her work is an acknowledgment of how such an analysis, and premise, also demands some expansion of scope to include considerations of the physical stage, which after all corresponds with any bodies set thereand which, more specifically, operates as a mechanism determining the conditions by which any body might be rendered visible. Put another way, the elemental visage of Hassabis object is necessarily in dialogue with its frame. The body is inseparable from its look, and therefore historical questions of the body necessarily extend to the very rendering of its image. (To borrow a Kantianism, she forces an institutional consideration of what makes a body an object of possible experience.) In this respect, as Hassabi speaks of the lighting for another work, PREMIERE, which consisted of an amazing array of can lights installed as a nearly blinding wall on one side of her dance, she remarks,

    Maria Hassabi. SHOW. 2011. Performed at Le Mouvement: Performing the City, Biel, Switzerland, August 2631, 2014. Performers: Hristoula Harakas and Maria Hassabi. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Alex Safari Kangangi

  • 3It isnt something deep and mysterious that changes the tone of the space and gives it an artificial effect. Instead it is prominent in your visionits almost like another performing body in the space. Because I like to insist the word

    theater means seeing-place, the lights are very important as what enables us to see.3

    In fact, the foregrounding of such institutional conditions for visuality pervade Hassabis work, whether taking the shape of an array of low-standing fixtures set along the stages perimeter in SHOW (2011) or a group of such lights at center stage (with their power cords winding toward every wall offstage) in the previous years Robert & Maria (2010)in which the artist and fellow dancer Robert Steijn simply stared into each others eyes. And yet even here body and architecture operate in parallel; as if to contradict again the primacy of images, the physical mechanism for seeing became apparent as each dancers tear ducts began welling up.

    A question remains, however, as to how far to extend such a grasp of the body, and in this regard it seems noteworthy thathowever much Hassabis exacting physicality elicits profound reactions in its moment of enactmentthe conditions of visibility for certain of her works are steeped in cultural source material pulled from a broad history of images that includes art, fashion, sports, music videos, and magazine editorials. For example, SoloShow (2009) incorporated movements and poses based on representations of women in spheres from fine art and classical dance to popular media and athletic competition. Such occasions suggest that Hassabis work navigates a significantly broader institutional ground. For her, choreography in these instances adopts a cyclical mode with respect to mediation, moving from image to body to image againrealizing material from pictures in bodily form, yet intentionally

    and self-consciously retaining this pictorial quality in space. In this vein, Hassabis movementand, as intriguingly, her stated allusion to sculptural form in danceoffers a compelling turn on appropriation work by artists in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Perhaps this should come as no surprise. As was the case for artists from Dara Birnbaum to Cindy Sherman, Hassabi engages questions of representation only while using media as a materialas when, for instance, she clads her dancers in apparel designed by the contemporary fashion mainstay threeASFOUR.)

    Consider Hassabis extended contortions in choreography alongside Robert Longos Men in the Cities (1979)a series of distended figure studies that began with a single sculptural wall frieze based on a still from Rainer Werner Fassbinders The American Soldier. This original piece, which was later rendered by the artist as a charcoal drawing, features a man whose arched back and tossed-back head denote the moment of his death by shooting. As described by art historian Douglas Crimp, who included the frieze in his legendary 1977 Pictures exhibition, Longos work captured a move in cinema from the long take to the freeze frame. This technical shift allowed the artist to register a kind of shock whose temporality determined the works hybrid nature. As Crimp writes,

    Longo suspends the moment between life and death in the ambiguous stasis of a picture. And the odd result is this picture/object has all the elegance of a dance.4 One may well suggest that the converse is true for Hassabi. As the artist reintroduces extended timeor the long takein her work, her dance assumes all the elegance of a picture/object with complete self-awareness. Intriguingly, Crimps perspective on Longos hybrid image/object seems to correspond across the decades with art historian Hal Fosters more recent description of contemporary performance in the gallery setting as something not quite alive, not quite deadwith the implication being that Hassabi reanimates, or dramatizes anew, the attending stakes.5

    Maria Hassabi. PREMIERE. 2013. Performed as part of Performa 13, The Kitchen, New York, November 69, 2013. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Paula Court

    Robert Longo. Untitled (Men in the Cities). 1979/2009. Set of three black-and-white photos, 20 16" (50.8 40.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

  • 4Notably, Longos work was interpreted by some critics as having captured the stress exerted by contemporary capitalism on human subjectivityand here again one may consider how Hassabis work transposes such concerns for another era. Especially telling is how Hassabis specific attention to temporalityand its material effecthas been remarked on by her own dancers. (When it comes to establishing such ties between material and temporality, Hassabi herself has gone so far as to cite theorist Paul Virilios adage that form is but a technical pursuit of time, which is all the more provocative for Hassabis work given her critical combinations of image and object.6) For example, in Hassabis 2011 video The Ladiesa short piece featuring two female dancers executing pared-down movements in public settings such as midtown sidewalks and The Museum of Modern Arts gardenthe artist takes Longos figures offstage, out of the gallery, and back into the city as allegorized through images of its streets and public squares. In the former case, per the account of one of Hassabis collaborators, Biba Bell, the performanceby virtue of establishing cadences distinctly at odds with those of the urban fabric surrounding themrendered habitual behaviors newly and immediately visible, suggesting how the architecture (both physical and structural) modeled behaviors.7 In fact, this dialogue was made all the more palpable by virtue of Hassabis work having made that real landscape scenographic.

    The Ladies is incredibly pertinent for considering PLASTIC, particularly as it is situated in a museum context. On first consideration, PLASTIC summons so many other critical maneuvers of performance within sponsoring institutions in the past: figures occupy and move throughout its public spaces, whether stairwell, hallway, or atrium, and whether those areas are meant for circulation of contemplation. And, in fact, as Hassabis dancers reside in these areas, audiences are newly cognizantand forced out oftheir paths, caught between the acts of looking and navigating.

    In turn, audiences will be apt to become newly cognizant of, and potentially alter, their physical paths and cultural behaviors. A museum visitor will have to step to the side of a body lying down across so many steps, for example. The social dimension of such a tension between object- and subject-hoodor better, of a figure that is at once an aesthetic figure and laborerwill be difficult, if nevertheless incisive, when it comes to the conditions of visibility in society more broadly speaking.

    This last aspect of Hassabis work asks us to consider the recounted experience of another dancer, Harakas, whose execution of Hassabis slow-moving choreography in SHOW has been described as a sequence of connections made and released among dancers, with one encounter giving way to the next.8 Her words suggest a vastly changed idea of choreographic production (and sequence) and, in fact, bear an uncanny resemblance to philosopher Paolo Virnos model for economic structures after networked communication. Saying the workplace is a virtuosic sphere, Virno claims that the character of performancea mode of communication among individuals where ostensibly nothing is produced but itselfis now germane to daily life.9 (To wit, Steve Paxtons plain, everyday life as denoted in dance during the 1970s is not our life lived today.10) In other words, communication in the contemporary cultural sphere is often valued in its own right; and it is, further, communication for the purpose of generating more communication in turn that is valued most. By such a measure, in Hassabis work one finds Virnos conceit of the post-Fordist virtuosic realized in form. The activity of performance, as he writes on the term and its new relevance for general culture,

    is an activity which finds its ownfulfillment (that is, its own purpose) in itself, without objectifying itself into an end product, without settling into a

    finished product, or into an object which would survive the performance. Secondly, it is an activity which requires the presence of others, which exists only in the presence of an audience.11

    And such form inevitably inflects its surroundings: viewers will pass through constellations of figures whose very stillness is apt to suggest those anonymous figures set within architectural renderings of proposed museum spaces just in order to give a sense of scalesuch that the artifice of the viewing experience itself becomes apparent through this sense of such a space having been rendered. Her long take in real space renders the behavior of audiences within the museums frame a kind of image/object in itself.12

    This same stillnesswhich gives rise to a dance with the elegance of an image/object, to turn Crimps words againmarks a decided shift from artistic projects engaging museums in previous decades. Indeed, whereas such previous critical endeavors were

    Maria Hassabi. Still from The Ladies. 2011. Video (color, sound), 10 min. Performers: Rebecca Brooks and Biba Bell. Courtesy the artist

  • 5often termed interventionsas they grappled with the structures of a given institution in order to reveal how they administrate meaning and, by extension, powerHassabis work presents an alternative model of intermission. A title for a similar performance work Hassabi executed for the Lithuania/Cyprus pavilion as part of the 2013 Venice Biennale, INTERMISSION, is especially telling in this respect. Set in a gymnasium near the citys Arsenale hall, the exhibition consisted of sculptural installations from numerous artists, in the midst of which Hassabis dancers performedeluding at first glance any neat categorization of performer, spectator, or pedestrian, but coming into focus as choreographed figures as time passed and, more specifically, as their stillness established a parenthetical contrast in space with the tempo of visitors to the surrounding biennial. Indeed, Hassabis alternate temporality does not orient viewers to any chronological moment before or after the performance. Instead, the shift takes place within the specific context.

    Hassabis critical mode, which looks more to structures of visibility than to those of signification, is most enigmatic and potentially provocative in her foray into PLASTICs occupation of MoMAs atrium: painting some of the museum walls grayimplicitly asking

    audiences to consider changed circumstances for performance by creating a space that is neither black box nor white cubeHassabi also installs furniture from the museums public spaces in the atrium. This displacement also calls attention to an altered landscape for viewership when it comes to performance in the museum, which increasingly employs experience-based artwork in order to attract an ever-larger public for whom performance, as Virno would have it, is the language of our day. Even the vicariousness of lived experience in hybrid settings, in which, say, work and leisure are never entirely distinctor where leisure and its particular mode of attention and distraction are even the stuff of industryare uniquely implicated.13 Here, the museum system itself seems on display as an aesthetic object. Indeed, in a sense, Hassabi here literalizes the contradiction of performance as an image and objectwith a gray lounge set within a white cube, and the dancer a stand-in for the audience member, both beholding architecture and enacting a choreography. In this respect, PLASTIC then underlines how not only the artwork but also the audience is produced by institutional frames and the protocols of spaceand Hassabi prompts audiences to picture themselves within the dance at hand.

    Maria Hassabi. INTERMISSION. 2013. Performed in Phanos Kyriacous Eleven hosts, twenty-one guests, nine ghosts (2013) and Gabriel Lesters Cousin (2013), Cypriot and Lithuanian Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, May 28June 4, 2013. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Robertas Narkus

  • 6Tim Griffin is Executive Director and Chief Curator, The Kitchen. Edited by Martha Joseph, Thomas J. Lax, and Jason Persse.

    Special thanks to Jill and Peter Kraus.

    Published in conjunction with Maria Hassabi: PLASTIC, The Museum of Modern Art, February 21March 20, 2016.

    Maria Hassabi: PLASTICis co-commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. The exhibition at MoMA is organized by Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art, and is produced by Lizzie Gorfaine, Performance Producer, with Kate Scherer, Assistant Performance Coordinator. Major support for the MoMA presentation is provided by MoMAs Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation and by The Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions. Generous funding is provided by The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art and by The Modern Womens Fund.

    1 If one wished to bookend such a development during the past 10 years, a revolutionary beginning would be offered by Marina Abramovics Seven Easy Pieces at the Guggenheim Museum in 2006 and, subsequently, the artists survey at The Museum of Modern Art, for which she transposed historical works for the contemporary setting. Regarding the former project, see Johanna Burton, Repeat Performance, Artforum (January 2006), 5556, in which the author describes how the artists reenactments were sophisticated holograms, both present and past, fact and fiction. The latter work was notable for rendering work from previous decades more explicitly pictorial, with the exhibition placing performers, whether standing or set within dioramas, in the same gallery but not in the same social space as audiencesas I wrote at the timemarking a turn among institutional presentations of performance-based and participatory artwork. See my Postscript: The Museum Revisited, Artforum (Summer 2010), 330. Visual artists have more recently frequently taken up such changed terms for performance-based work. For example, Elad Lassrys Presence, in 2012 at The Kitchen, sought to present a work reflexively as a picture, inverting his stated desireregarding his more widely known photographsto make pictures into sculptural objects. As a matter of anecdote, it seems noteworthy that Lassrys efforts in this regard were modeled after the example of Charles Atlas, whose videos of choreographers do not merely document work but effectively transpose their form for another medium. Such an interstitial quality seems especially worth revisiting when contemplating our current moment.

    2 Maria Hassabi, Artist Statement, unpublished (New York, 2015), p. 3.

    3 Lauren Bakst, Scott Lyall and Maria Hassabi, Bomb (February 11, 2014). See http://bombmagazine.org/article/1000022/scott-lyall-and-maria-hassabi. Accessed on February 16, 2016.

    4 Douglas Crimp, Pictures, exh. cat. (New York: Artists Space, 1977), p. 26.

    5 Hal Foster, In Praise of Actuality, Bad New Days (New York: Verso, 2015), p. 127.

    6 It is noteworthy that another prominent choreographer of our day, Ralph Lemon, who is similarly grappling with the museum context,

    has pointed to the same quote form the philosopher. See James Hannaham, Ralph Lemon, Bomb, http://bombmagazine.org/article/6615/ralph-lemon. Accessed February 10, 2016.

    7 Biba Bell, Slow Work: Dances temporal effort in the visual sphere, Performance Research (Vol. 19, issue 3), pp. 129134.

    8 Writing on the structure of this work as laid out by Hassabi in conversation, author Jenn Joy suggests that such discrete sequences of connections extend from performers to audience as well. See Jenn Joy, Dear N1, Danse: An Anthology, Nomie Solomon, ed. (Lyon: Les presses du rel, 2013), pp. 22527.

    9 Paolo Virno, Day Two: Labor, Action, Intellect, A Grammar of the Multitude (New York: Semiotext(e), 2004), pp. 4772. Although Virnos proposition is by now very familiar, its potential correspondence with real artistic compositional technique is perhaps becoming legible only in more recent years.

    10 At the same time, one should note that performance is actively in dialogue with its cultural moment. If Hassabis work renders visible a specific kind of social and institutional sphere in her work, the same could be said of, say, Vito Acconcis Proximity Piece (1970), as his performance implicates audiences intuitive and acculturated understanding of personal space.

    11 Virno, 52 (emphasis in the original).

    12 At the risk of taking this premise a bridge too far, one may speculate that the fictive element in performanceand the scenographic contextalso correlates with a rising sense of inauthenticity within the discipline. If authenticity was once partly measured by a particular, reflexive resistance to commercial forces and commodification, then what happens to the figures and models of resistancethe very parlance of performance in previous decadeswhen they become a basis for economic exchange in their own right?

    13 Significantly, for an earlier presentation of the work at the UCLA Hammer Museum, Hassabi painted the typically white gallery walls a theatrical black, adorned one wall with stage lighting, carpeted the gallery floor and, at the center of the room, placed a large seat cushion occasionally used for repose by a single dancer.

  • THE BREEDER !!!!

    Maria Hassabi, PLASTIC (2015), The Museum of Modern Art, 2016. Photograph 2015 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

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    5 DESTE PRIZE 2015



    , . , , , , . ,

    , . , , . Raimundas Malaauskas , , . INTERMISSION (2013) oO 2013 , , .

    , . , John Bock, Manuel Pelmus Alexandra Pirici, Tino Sehgal, .

    , , ( ) Marina Abramovic The Artist Is Present. , 2010, . , Amelia Jones : , , ,

    ... ;. , , .,


    The artist and choreographer Maria Hassabis performances and live installations of the past decade have been described as explorations of stillness, slowness, and sustained movement. Even more so, her worksproduced for galleries, theaters, and public spacesaddress the separation between the spectacular and the everyday, between subject and object, between bystander and viewerwhile addressing the ways in which dance and the spectacle of performance is presented in theatrical and exhibition contexts.

    Performance-based works such as these are rooted in the discourse of sculptural time. As much as they negotiate the specific parameters of exhibition, display, and presentation in the murky area that sits between museum and theater contexts, Hassabis works are equipped to reconcile the living and breathing temporality of sculpture with the forms of movement that are inherent to performance. To this end, the curator Raimundas Malaauskas recently characterized them as living sculptures, akin to a volcano that moves slow, takes its time and attempts to be still. This description of INTERMISSION (2013)a live installation developed and performed in the context of the exhibition oO in the Cypriot and Lithuanian Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennaleplays on metaphors of stillness, potentiality, and the slowness of geologic time, which have been key aspects of Hassabis work. Through a practice that spans disciplines, Hassabi confronts exhibition time and

    the standard modes of operating that institutions within the visual arts have come to rely on. The very same year that Hassabi debuted her work in Venice, there were a handful of other living installations by artists such as John Bock, Manuel Pelmus and Alexandra Pirici, and Tino Sehgal that elided the same conventions of display as a static phenomenon but to very different ends.The tendency to use living actors as theatrical props/agents in extended performances

    has become an industry standard, rooted in a recent discourse of presence and presentness that was ushered in (again) with no statement as grand as the presentation of Marina Abramovi: The Artist Is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010, which provided visitors with the opportunity to engage the artist in an unscripted staring contest. Writing in response to this monumental work, the performance theorist and historian Amelia Jones asked, What are we to do with the fact that, when the art world and its corollary discourses such as curating, art criticism, and art history scholarship . . . embrace performance they seem inevitably to turn live acts into objects? Commentary such as this is commonplace enough in an era that has become ever more dependent on the role of live art within museum programming that responds to the demand for novel ways of engaging a public that seeks out entertainment rather than the potentially alienating encounter one can have when viewing otherwise indifferent objects of art.

    In contrast, and perhaps shying away from engaging experiences, Hassabis prolonged choreographic works pursue unmediated forms of presence and presentness as an encounter with the physical body as an almost sculptural form. By extension, the very mediated nature of performance as a form of spectacle with theatrical origins is



    1973 . .Born in 1973 in Nicosia, Cyprus. Lives and works in New York, NY, USA.

    Maria Hassabi, DESTE Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens

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    5 DESTE PRIZE 2015



    , PREMIERE, 2013 The Kitchen, , Performa 13 (6 9 2013) Paula Court

    Maria Hassabi, PREMIERE, 2013Presentation at The Kitchen, New York as part of Performa 13 (November 6 - 9, 2013)Courtesy the artistPhoto Paula Court

    . , , , black-box , .

    , , . , , . , - , , , , . , .

    Aram Moshayedi ( Hammer Museum , PLASTIC 2015)

    at the crux of her practice, rooted more in the relationship between physicality and stillness, dance and sculptureand the conditions that are specific to their presentations in black-box and gallery- like settings, respectivelythan in the recent insistence on living bodies as impactful objects within installation-based artworks.

    Hassabis choreography is characteristically in pursuit of stillness through movementcharacterized by a glacial, tectonic rate of changewhich equally engage the specific conditions in which they are performed, whether in theaters or galleries or in ordinary public spaces. Whatever the context of presentation, her live installations recede, evading presence in the traditional sense of the word. Her works point to their own mediation; they are discrete despite the ways in which they unfold throughout varied spaces and over extended periods of time, positioning Hassabi as a choreographer of an anti-spectacular medium, indifferent to the expectations of viewer, audience, witness, bystander. This indifference is crucial to the exploration of new modes of presentation within both the performing and the visual arts, all the while remaining firmly rooted in a history of dance.

    Aram Moshayedi (curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, where Hassabis PLASTIC debuted in 2015)

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    5 DESTE PRIZE 2015



    , The Ladies, 2011 Francis Coy

    Maria Hassabi, The Ladies, 2011Stills from Video. Courtesy the artistPhoto Francis Coy


    , SHOW, 2011 Le Mouvement: Performing the City, , (26 -31 2014) Alex Safari Kangangi

    Page 73:

    Maria Hassabi, SHOW, 2011Presentation at Le Mouvement: Performing the City, Biel, Switzerland, August 26-31, 2014Courtesy of the artistPhoto Alex Safari Kangangi

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    , PLASTIC, 2015 , Hammer, (31 1 , 2015) Thomas Poravas

    Maria Hassabi, PLASTIC, 2015Installation views, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (January 31 - March 1, 2015)Courtesy the artistPhoto Thomas Poravas

  • 76


    5 DESTE PRIZE 2015



    , 2015, , Wall, 2015 Dancers Manual, 20151000 4 Shiro Echo21 x 29,7 x 30 . The Breeder, Thomas Poravas

    Maria HassabiInstallation view, DESTE Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece Wall, 2015Mixed media sculptureDimensions variableDancers Manual, 20151000 A4 Shiro Echo Papers, Color ink 21 x 29,7 x 30 cmCourtesy the artist and The Breeder, AthensPhoto Thomas Poravas


    , NANCY, 2015, , , , , , Nike, 38 x 178 x 108 . The Breeder,

    Pages 77-79:

    Maria Hassabi, NANCY, 2015Wax, plaster, metal bars, oil colors, clothing, rhinestones, Nike shoes, natural hair38 x 178 x 108 cmCourtesy The Breeder, AthensPhoto George Sfakianakis

    , Wall, 2015 9 Par , 9 , The Breeder, Thomas Poravas

    Maria Hassabi, Wall, 2015 Mixed media sculpture, 9 ETC Source Four Par, 9 black power cables, control cables, dimmers, paint, wall clipsDimensions variable Courtesy the artist and The Breeder, AthensPhoto Thomas Poravas


  • 78


    5 DESTE PRIZE 2015



  • !!

    Maria Hassabi, NANCY, 2015, Wax, plaster, metal bars, oil colors, clothing, rhinestones, Nike shoes, natural hair, 38 x 178 x 108 cm Installation view, DESTE Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece

  • !!

    Maria Hassabi, Installation view, DESTE Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece Wall, 2015, Mixed media sculpture

    Dimensions variable Dancers Manual, 2015, 1000 A4 Shiro Echo Papers, Color ink, 21 x 29,7 x 30 cm !

  • Maria Hassabi, Wall, 2015, Mixed media sculpture, 9 ETC Source Four Par, 9 black power cables, control cables, dimmers, paint, wall clips,

    Dimensions variable, Installation view, DESTE Prize 2015, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, Greece

  • PREMIERE%(2013)


  • Vimeo:%hYps://vimeo.com/121960017%%Password:%hassabi%16%min%excerpt


    PREMIERE%raised%ques+ons%about%the%no+on%of%the%premiere,%that%fragile%moment%when%a%closed%crea+on%process%becomes%a%public%product.%In%its%evolu+on%from%process%into%product,%strong%feelings%of%an+cipa+on%emerge%as%a%new%element%is%added:%the%audience,%as%viewer%and%cri+c.%The%doors%leading%into%the%theater%open.%Five%dancers%are%exhibited%in%asymmetrical%poses%between%two%brightlyGlit%walls%constructed%from%theatrical%lights.%The%sculptural%bodies%move%with%a%condent%iner+a.%From%this%star+ng%posi+on,%PREMIERE%gently%evolves%into%a%series%of%tableauxGvivants%without%end,%as%ve%solos%unfold%simultaneously%onstage.%In%the%shared%space,%and%with%a%minimalist%dramaturgy,%light%and%sound%also%become%fullGedged%actors.%PREMIERE%composes%an%intense%universe%of%microscopic%events Performers%Biba%Bell,%Hristoula%Harakas,%Maria%Hassabi,%Robert%Steijn,%Andros%ZinsGBrowne%%Sound(Design(Alex%Waterman LighMng(Design(Zack%Tinkelman%and%Maria%Hassabi Styling%threeASFOURDramaturgy%ScoY%Lyall ProducMon(Assistants(Meghan%Finn%and%Kate%Ryan%%%Shows(2015%G%Het%Veem%Theater,%Amsterdam,%The%Netherlands%(April%10,%11)%2014%G%Fes+val%fr%Ak+onskunst,%Bern,%Switzerland%(December%3) %%%%%%%%%%G%steirischer%herbst,%Graz,%Austria%(September%27,%28)%%%%%%%%%%G%River%to%River%Fes+val,%New%York,%US%(June%27,%28)%%%%%%%%%%G%NEAT%fes+val,%Nopngham,%UK%(May%23)%%%%%%%%%%G%Gteborgs%Dans%&%Teater%Fes+val,%Gteborg,%Sweden%(May%20)%%%%%%%%%%G%Kunstenfes+valdesarts,%Brussels,%Belgium%(May%3,4,5) %%%%%%%%%%G%XING,%Bologna,%Italy%(April%10)%2013%%G%Premiere:%The%Kitchen,%NYC,%as%part%of%Performa%13%(November%6,%7,%8,%9)%Press(You'watch'for'something6anything6to'break'loose.'You'feel'relief'and'triumph'to'no5ce'even'just'the'ow'of'breath'ruing'through'a'dancers'back,'and'you'search'for'more'of'the'same.'Your'outer'and'inner'senses'reach'out.'Despite'yourself,'you'have'already'begun'to'live'in'this'dance'The'work6an'endurance'trial'for'performers'and'audience'alike6is'a'knockout.'




  • This%is%most%evident%in%Hassabis%work%of%the%past%ve%yearsthe%eveningGlength%solos%SOLO%SHOW%(November%2009)%and%SOLO%(October%2009),%conceived%sequen+ally%as%a%diptych,% the% duet% SHOW% (2011)% performed% by% Hristoula% Harakas% and% Hassbi,%INTERMISSION% (2013),% a% group% work% commissioned% for% the% Cyprus% and% Lithuanian%Pavilion% at% the% 55th% Interna+onal% Art% Exhibi+on% of% la% Biennale% di% Venezia,% and%PREMIERE.% A% compelling% example% is% the% opening% sequence% of% SOLO% SHOW,% which%begins%with%Hassabi% poised% in% a% contorted%posi+on:%her% legs% strewn% sideways% across%the%front%corner%of%a%raised%black%plazorm,%her%upper%body%elevated%by%both%elbows%and%her%head%thrown%back,%veiling%her%face.%She%con+nues%to%shi]%into%strained%lying%posi+ons,% and% then% several%minutes% into% this% sequence,% she%begins% to%awkwardly% li]%herself%to%standing.%Interes+ng,%one%may%read%the%intense%physicality%of%her%movement%as% sugges+ve.% The% tension% that% results% from% the% ambiguity% between% eort% and%seduc+on% aims% to% confuse% common% representa+ons% of% the% female% body.% Likewise,%SOLO,%also%performed%by%Hassabi,%is%a%dynamic%eveningG%length%work%in%which%a%heavy%Persian%oor%carpet%becomes%her%ac+ve%collaborator%in%the%dance.%She%li]s%and%carries%the% carpet,% lies% over% and% rolls%with% the% carpet,% contorts% and%maneuvers% herself% into%various% poses% with% the% carpetall% while% holding% each% posi+on% with% controlled%precision%to%incite%sculptural%images%evoking%female%strength%and%devo+on.%In%the%duet%SHOW%(2011),%the%physical%distance%between%viewer%and%performer%is%removed,%with%the%audience,%who%are%not%seated,%joining%the%dancers%on%stage,%in+mately%surrounding%them.% From% this% close% vantage,% the% demanding% and%mime+c%movements% of% Hassabi%and% Harakas,% who% have% a% resemblance% to% each% other,% elicit% an% unraveling% on%subjec+vity%and%the%inherent%pressure%felt%in%the%performance%of%our%daily%lives.%%

    Maria%Hassabis%recent%works%demand%that%our%aYen+on%is%xed%on%the%implica+ons%of%every%shape,%shi]%in%posi+on,%and%nego+a+on%of%space.%It%is%the%dis+nct%slowness%and%gradual%progression%of%her%choreography% that%allows%you% to%capture% form,%and%more%specically,%body%as%image.%Though,%it%is%not%fair%to%say%that%Hassabi%asks%the%viewer%to%do%anything.%Her%work%does%not%impose.%Instead,%the%slowness%makes%it%possible%to%see%the% images% that% are% unraveling% through%witness% of% small% and% large% ac+ons.% Perhaps%that%is%why%the%rela+on%between%dura+on%and%movement%in%Maria%Hassabis%work%is%so%cri+cal.%It%enables%a%wai+ng%in%which%we%consider%the%poten+al%of%the%gura+ve%role%of%the%body%in%choreographic%imageGmaking.%%



    Five% dancers% hold% s+ll% in% pensive% poses% under% an% astounding% installa+on% of% densely%congured%bright%lights.%Two%are%standing,%while%three%others%are%in%reclined%posi+ons%on%the%ground:%seemingly%mo+onless%gures%an+cipa+ng%what%one%could%associate%to%be% the% capturing% of% a% social% group% picture.% They% remain% xed% in% these% posi+ons% for%upward% of% twenty%minutes,% long% enough% for% the% audience% to%wonder% just%when% the%dancers%will%break%their%stance,%their%silence,%their%stare.%%

    Over% the% past% ten% years,% Maria% Hassabi% has% developed% a% prac+ce% centered% on% the%rela+on% between% imageGmaking% and% the% body.% Her% choreography% captures% specic%images%and%denes%them%through%movements%performed%in%extended%dura+on.%In%the%opening%sequence%of%Hassabis%recent%work,%PREMIERE%(2013),%described%above,%the%viewer%becomes%xated%on%the%details%of%the%poses%the%performers%embody.%The%performers% are% not% sta+c% gures,% however,% but% present% gures.% You%may% no+ce% the%angle% of% ones% +lted% head,% anothers% awkwardly% skewed% foot,% or% how% the% reclined%posi+on% of% anothers% torso% casts% a% provoca+ve,% yet% almost% insecure% lean.% Rendered%through%incredibly%slow%movement,%images%are%captured.%%

    In%the%1970s,%postmodern%choreographer%Steve%Paxton%developed%the%small%dance,%or%the%ac+on%of%standing%s+ll,%an%idea%that%illustrates%the%physical%essence%of%Hassabis%work.%In%a%1975%interview%between%Paxton%and%performance%scholar%Peter%Hulton,%the%choreographer%elaborates%the%origins%of%the%small%dance,%sta+ng:%Standing%s+ll%and%feeling%your%body.%Doing%absolutely%nothing%but%lepng%your%skeletal%muscles%hold%you%upright.% The%other% thing% is% boredom.% It% is% very% important% because%boredom% lets% the%mind% relax.%Maria%Hassabis%work% is% situated% in% the% legacy%of%Paxtons% theory%of% the%small% dance,% which% comes% forth% in% her% insistence% on% dura+onal% experimenta+on:%slowness,% s+llness,%and%what%one%may%even%deem%boredom,%or%a% sense%of% inac+vity.%Holding% true% to% these% elements,% her% work% is% a% prac+ce% in% abstrac+on,% exercised%through% the% reduc+on% of% +me% and% movement.% Yet,% while% her% use% of% abstrac+on%develops% a% percep+on% of% the% body% as% a% fragmented% form,% the% focused% dura+on%presents%the%body%as%an%aec+ng%force.%%


  • PREMIERE((2013):%Presenta+on%at%MAMbo%through%XING%fes+val,%Bologna,%Italy


  • 19




  • Think%of%a%volcano%that%moves%slow,%takes%its%+me%and%aYempts%to%be%s+ll.%Trembles%and%tension%become%the%mo+on.%Separated%at%adolescence,%sculpture%and%dance%move%towards%a%shared%des+na+on%where%they%are%inseparable%like%Gilbert%and%George.%17%steps%on%the%south%wing,%18%steps%on%the%north%one%are%made%out%of%pauses,%interrup+ons,%loops%and%delays.%To%commemorate%it%several%living%sculptures%from%one%or%two%countries%may%arrive.








  • 22

  • COUNTER/RELIEF%(201162013)


  • CounterGrelief%(CCS%Bard)%2011%seeks%to%reveal%that%choreographic%ac+on%and%its%inten+ons%are%always%provisional,%always%created%(whether%before%or%a]er%the%fact)%by%the%ar+s+c%process%that%represents%it.%









  • 25

  • CHANDELIERS%(2012)


  • CHANDELIERS((2012)((InstallaMon(







  • THE(LADIES%(2012)


  • The(Ladies((2012)(Short%lm%%Dura+on%10%min





  • PERFORMANCE(RESEARCH:(A(Journal(of(the(Performing(Arts((Published(online:(13(Aug(2014


    In%the%autumn%of%2011%I%began%working%with%New%YorkGbased%choreographer%Maria%Hassabi%on%The'Ladies,% a% series%of% appearances% that% involved%pairs%of%dancers% taking% to% the% streets%of%ManhaYan%to%perform%twoGhour% long% intervals%of%varied%choreographic%scores%that% included%walking,% pausing,% posing,% looking% and% being% looked% at.% The% sixGweek% span% of% public%performances% took% place% unannounced% a]er% a% limited% rehearsal% period% in% Hassabis% home%studio.% An% educa+on% of% s+llness% and% slowness,% we% were% briefed% in% the% rigorous% labour% of%composure,%using%movement%to%not%only%locate%ourselves%in%space%but%in%+me,%producing%an%extended%temporal%plane%upon%which%our%dancing%would%occur.%The%project%truly%was,%in%the%words%of%postGstudio%ar+st%Carl%Andre,%a%movement%out%onto%the%streets%(cited%in%Rose%2013),%where% its% temporal% consistency%dynamically% inserted% it% against% the% grain%of%urban%hustle.%A%range% of% reac+ons% from% passersG% by% ensued:% disinterest% and% inaYen+veness,% curiosity% and%enjoyment,%interjec+on%and%suspicion%(especially%during%two%excursions%entering%the%galleries%of% The% Museum% of% Modern% Art% (MoMA)% in% New% York% that% threatened% with% the% risk% of%expulsion),%mockery%and%ridicule%and%even%one%case%of%assault.%%

    Ci+ng%the%gure%of%pain+ng,%sculpture,%cinema%and%fashion,%Hassabis%work%morphs%the%pose,%aYenuated% to% its% historiographic% spectacle.% Engaging% dura+on,% proximity% and% distance,% the%technical% elements% of% ligh+ng% (its% objects,% illumina+on% and% heat),% costume% and% the%architectural% context% of% the% theatre% or% gallery,% her% work% asserts% the% ac+on% of% posing% as% a%demanding,% choreographic% pursuit.% Referencing% famous% and% aec+ve% poses,% she% has% spent%years% gra]ing% them% on% to% her% own% and% dancer% Hristoula% Harakass% bodies,% developing% an%intensive%performance%quality%at%a%signature%glacially%slow%pace%that%eclipses%its%confounding%eort% (Bishop% 2013:% 319).% Bodily% endurance,% without% becoming% endurance% art,% ini+ates% a%strategy%that%makes%visible%the%eort%of%forma+on,%intervening%against%the%composure%of%its%image% (Lyall% 2013).% The%work% can% be% approached%with% curiosity% or% restlessness,% intrigue% or%anxiety,%and%it%is%up%to%the%audience%to%decide.%The%ques+on%of%why%(pose)%collapses%into%how,%an+cipa+ng% a% formal% pursuit% that% is,% as% Paul% Virilio% suggests,% a% technical% pursuit% of%+me%(2009:%24).%%

    The'Ladies'was%my%entre%into%Hassabis%process%as%a%performer%and%par+cipant.%Through%my%own% labour% within% its% technical% demands,% I% was% able% to% garner% a% sense% of% the% corporeal%capacity%of%dance%to%intervene%within%temporal%regimes,%accumulate%and%inect%their%ow,and%produce%its%own%sense%of%+me.%The%overG%arching%task%of%her%choreographic%structuresfor%this%project%could%be%as%simple%as%traveling%%two%avenue%blocks%when,%a]er%one%and%a%half%hours,% I% would% realize% that% only% oneGquarter% of% the% distance% had% been% covered.% Each% step,%gesture% or% glance%was% isolated,%metabolized% and% extende