the art of performance

Immersive new experience gets Houstonians moving at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Immersive new experience gets Houstonians moving at the MFAH

“William Forsythe's: Choreographic Objects”
William Forsythe's, Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, No. 3 . Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
“William Forsythe's: Choreographic Objects”
William Forsythe's City of Abstracts. Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
“William Forsythe's: Choreographic Objects”
“William Forsythe's: Choreographic Objects”

Houstonians know the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is a destination for some of the world's most incredible art. This summer, some of its galleries will become go-to places for immersive experiences as well. That's when “William Forsythe's: Choreographic Objects” takes over the museum's Cullinan Hall and adjacent galleries, providing visitors the opportunity to be enveloped by art.

Opening May 23 and continuing through September 15, the summer show includes a full range of art, from an immersive installation to a single object designed to be held. “Choreographic Objects” as an exhibit looks at the way we connect with one another, as well as exploring the concepts of space and time, and how we move through and relate to them.

Three signature works anchor the  exhibition. As visitors approach the interactive video wall of City of Abstracts, their images are captured on a screen. As more figures move in front of the screen, the more distended their limbs become. The idea is to invite movement, melding the bodies into a dance.

Towards the Diagnostic Gaze invites visitors to engage with a feather duster lying on a stone slab. They will see the instruction to “Hold the object absolutely still.” Are they able to do so? What movements happen even as they are attempting to do so? And what does this say about the way humans approach movement and stillness?

In Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time visitors navigate through swinging pendulums hung from the ceiling. The pendulums' movement is programmed to produce a kinetic and acoustic counterpoint that divides the exhibit hall into unpredictable, changing parts.

The themes of movement make sense: Forsythe trained in classical ballet in Florida, later dancing with the renowned Joffrey Ballet. He danced with and was appointed resident choreographer for the Stuttgart Ballet, and became the director of the Ballet Frankfurt before founding and directed The Forsythe Company. His “Choreographic Objects” have been exhibited at London’s Tate Modern, Paris’s La Villette/Grande Halle and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Forsythe has received numerous awards and in 2010 was honored with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.

The exhibit is coordinated with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and is the sixth consecutive summer series of immersive art at the MFAH.

“William Forsythe creates experiences that are immediate and fresh,” said Gary Tinterow, director of the MFAH in a release about the exhibit. “We are delighted to present his unexpected and engaging works to our summer audiences, who look forward to the Museum’s annual presentations of immersive contemporary installations year after year.”