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andrea geyer

Three Chants Modern. 2013. two-channel HD video, color, sound, 25 minutes.

Three Chants Modern, Installation ASpace, Toronto (Images Festival) 2013.

Three Chants Modern (Lily, niv and Agnes), 2013. Digital C-print, 42 x 30 inches.

Three Chants Modern, research materials, list of potential dinner guest,
Abby Rockefeller Archives, The Rockefeller Archive Center, 2012.

Projected life-size onto two walls converging at an angle in an otherwise empty gallery, the looping two-channel video of Three Chants Modern documents three pairs of dancers moving through and talking and singing in the painting and sculpture permanent collection galleries at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Through spoken word, song, and choreography, the video highlights both the women artists in the collection and the masterpieces acquired by women, bringing particular attention to the fact that the museum was established by three women: Lillie P. Bliss, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and Mary Quinn Sullivan. Through the contemporary bodies of the dancers and their presence within the institution, Three Chants Modern channels the groundbreaking spirit and energy of these histories, suggesting that they persist and can still be activated. The six performers, who perform in pairs, range widely in age and background. The pairs differ from one another through their monochrome costumes and their distinct movement scores. In constant motion, the camera recorded the dancers’ movement and actions to offer the viewer an intimate vantage point. Used as a focal point for their gaze, the camera allowed dancers to address the viewer directly. The sound recording is equally sensitive to the dancers’ movements, picking up their breath and rustling clothes to add another layer of intimacy. In one scene, two dancers dressed in shades of green take turns, one closing her eyes while the other guides her through a movement in front of Agnes Martin’s Harbor Number 1 (1957). In another scene, the camera traces the dynamic movement of another pair of dancers, dressed in shades of red, before they pose in a long cooperative balance next to Yayoi Kusama’s Accumulation No. 1 (1962). In yet another scene, two performers dressed in shades of blue translate gestures from Picasso’s Bather with Beach Ball (1932) into motion. When the dancers stop to turn their bodies and gazes toward 163 the camera, one projection goes black while in the other the dancers become increasingly distant. At times, the image halts into a still before going black. At other times, dancers simultaneously appear in both projections: for instance, a woman with cropped gray hair slowly twirls in front of Henri Matisse’s Dance (I) (1909) on one wall; she is seen posed in a group on the other. Geyer refers to these tableaux vivants, which are composed in front of artworks either produced or purchased for the museum by women and occur throughout the video, as “family portraits.” They often lead into short speeches, proclamations, or songs. The tone of the lyrics and the delivery of the three songs in Three Chants Modern shift from those of the spoken statements, adding levity by way of enthusiastic short verses and repeating choruses in the style of rallying cries and protest chants. Each of two pairs of dancers sing one of two songs in a reverberating a cappella. One of the dancers from the third pair delivers the final song from off-screen. Balladlike, it begins: “With body and soul she listens to time / A teacher most present to her and her kind.” It hovers over scenes in which each pair of dancers walks hand in hand through the galleries. The camera follows them and captures their gaze as they stop to look at different paintings. The voice concludes with, “She knows to resist the conflation of time / The insistence of being is hers and is mine / The insistence of being is hers and is mine,” as the projection goes black.

This work was commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.

written, directed and edited by Andrea Geyer

Performers: Leslie Zema, Edisa Weeks, Alicia Ohs, Patricia Hoffbauer, Lily Gold, niv Acosta

Choreography: niv Acosta
Lyrics: Andrea Geyer
Music: JD Samson

Costume Design: Jocelyn Davis

Production Manager: Cortney Andrews
Production Manager MoMA: Jill A. Samuels

Director of Photography: Michelle Lawler
Steadicam Operator: Jamie Northrup
1st Camera Assistant: Consuelo Althouse
Camera Spotter: Ilyn Wong
Gaffer: Stefan Weinberger
Gaffer Assistant: Matt Whitman

Assistant to the Director: Brenda Goldstein
Script Supervision: Alona Weiss

Sound: John Steadwell
Boom Operators: Pieter Paul Pothoven, Isaac Pool

Media Manager: Maricruz Alarcón
Performance Support: Lauren Denitzio
Spotters: Christine Howard Sandoval, John Führer
Security guards: Kao-sy Yannyck, Vladimir Legrand, Clement Blake, Adrian Poulson, Reynold Pascal

Sound Mix: Alexa Zimmerman
Color Correction: Cory Evans

Special thanks to: the dancers and the Museum of Modern Art, to Kathy Halbreich, Ann Temkin, Sabine Breitwieser, Ana Janevski, Martin Hartung, Jill A. Samuels, Cortney Andrews, the Security Staff at MoMA, Hannah Stearn, Reid Farrington, Amy Chen, Cara Manes, Michelle Elligott, Milan Hughston, Jane Anderson, Sharon Hayes, Barbara Clausen, Vivian Ziherl and Ashley Hunt.

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