Simone Forti and Charlemagne Palestine: illlummminnnatttionnnsssss!!!!!!!

Apr 13–14, 2014


Simone Forti. Large Illumination Drawings. 1972. Charcoal and felt-tip pen on paper, 19 × 24″ (48.3 × 61 cm). The Modern Women’s Fund. © 2016 Simone Forti
  • MoMA, Floor 4, Collection Galleries The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Lobby Gallery

The Department of Media and Performance Art is pleased to present illlummminnnatttionnnsssss!!!!!!!, a performance by the artists Simone Forti and Charlemagne Palestine. As a key figure in the history of minimalist dance, Simone Forti defined a new language of physical movement. Charlemagne Palestine is a pianist and composer whose experiments with many religious and ceremonial musical styles is rooted in his formal training as a cantor as well as early experiences with carillon bells and electronic tone generators.

The two artists met at the California Institute of the Arts in 1970, when they were asked to arrange a concert for the Indian musician Pandin Pran Nath. They started improvisation sessions together in a large music hall that they called The Temple. Forti described their collaboration in her 1974 book Handbook in Motion: “The aspect of Charlemagne’s music that most inspired my imagination was his melodies. Sometimes their texture of repetitions and evolving variations are so close that the term melody doesn’t seem to apply… What most determined our format was Charlemagne’s way of letting the elements in the music develop only very gradually.”

These sessions led the first performance of Illuminations in 1971, which consisted of Palestine playing a composition for piano while Forti performed improvised movement. The sound was recorded on three LPs. Performing in a shared space, Forti and Palestine create a dynamic interplay of sound and movement. The work engages with questions concerning balance, geometry, refined pitch, and the nature of collaboration.

The Media and Performance Art Department is thrilled to restage this important work, which has not been performed in New York since 1975, at The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Lobby Gallery. Working under the altered title illlummminnnatttionnnsssss!!!!!!!, Forti and Palestine have provided a unique opportunity to witness a collaboration between these two legendary figures. The performance is presented while both artists have works currently on view in the Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador of the New exhibition.

Organized by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, and Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Leora Morinis, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.

The performance is made possible by MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation.


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