The Glass House: Garden as Performance

Perhaps the words of the philosopher Rosario Assunto that changed radically the way to conceive of the garden are engraved in every tree of The Glass House.

The garden conceived as “absolute landscape”, the wedding of ethics and aesthetics where art and nature become one thing is emphasized by an important performance program totally blending in with it. A garden where every element seems to perform.

The Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a National Trust Historic Site located in New Canaan, Connecticut. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises fourteen structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture, along with public programs and temporary exhibitions.

Ivy Baldwin Dance
Keen (Part 1)

May 22, 2016

Keen (Part 1) brings a powerful yet often hidden emotion to life within the Philip Johnson Glass House and its dramatic grounds. The performance embodies the emotional and physical experience of loss, memory and holding love, and filters it through the lens of serene Modernism and chaotic wilderness. An all-woman cast dressed in red alternate between synchronized movements and stark solitary wanderings––the sum of their movements create a whole, vulnerable and hopeful self. Juxtaposing ancient rites of mourning with threads inspired by the 1967 “Country Happening” at the Glass House, a performance of the great modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham and the Velvet Underground, Remove both adheres to and departs from formal dance structures to share an unbridled and varied experience of griefKeen (Part 1) is a site-specific dance is performed by Baldwin, Anna Carapetyan, Eleanor Smith, and Katie Workum, with a live score by Justin Jones.

Choreographed by Ivy Baldwin
Performances by Ivy Baldwin, Anna Carapetyan, Eleanor Smith and Katie Workum
Sound Design by Justin Jones
Photography by © Andy Romer

Gerard & Kelly’s Modern Living

May 13 – 14 2016

Modern Living is a performance artwork by Gerard & Kelly that explores themes of queer intimacy and domestic space within the legacies of modernist architecture. Unfolding in two chapters, the project began at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, California, in January 2016 and continued at The Glass House in New Canaan, CT on May 13 and 14, 2016. Modern Living brings into dialogue two iconic homes that were lived in by the architects who built them, and examines how the inhabitants’ struggles to modernize impacted the site’s architectural designs.
Gerard & Kelly composed a movement score for nine dancers from Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project.They have re-imagined the Schindler and Glass houses as ’experiments in living, positing architecture as choreography for relationships The dancers explore the rhythms of time throughout the location’s interior and exterior space. Falling in and out of sync, the group investigates the livability of a queer space—its pleasures, tensions, and impossibilities.

Photography © Evan Wale

Jimmy Robert: Imitation of Lives

November 3 – 5, 2017

In Imitation of Lives, Bucharest-based French artist Jimmy Robert occupies Philip Johnson’s Glass House, turning the modernist icon into a stage for an intimate performance that delves into the intersections of architecture, visibility, and black representation. Inspired by Jeff Wall’s essay Dan Graham’s Kammerspiel (1988), Robert draws on the house’s reflective qualities to devise a work for three performers engaged in a subtle game of looking and being looked at in turn.

In previous works, Robert has explored the politics of spectatorship by reworking seminal avant-garde performances in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. For this new performance, poetry and music are merged into a “live collage” that includes a new painting by Lucy McKenzie, and references to Harlem Renaissance cabaret singer Jimmie Daniels, who was once romantically involved with Philip Johnson; Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1981); David Hammons’ In the Hood (1993); lyrics by Josephine Baker; and texts by Jayne Cortez, Marguerite Duras, Audre Lorde, and Lorenzo Thomas. Robert’s layered performance turns the Glass House into an arena where exposure, representation, and power can be thought anew.

Co-curated by Cole Akers (The Glass House) and Charles Aubin (Performa)
Co-commissioned by Performa and The Glass House for Performa 17
Performers: NIC Kay, Jimmy Robert, and Quenton Stuckey

Painting: Loos / De Bruycker marble (2017) by Lucy McKenzie
Costume design: Carmen Secareanu (robes) and Regina M. Rizzo (t-shirts)
Voice coach: Emily Kron

Graphic design: David Knowles
Photography by © Michael Biondo

This feature  is selected by Emiliano Aversa