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If Gerard & Kelly posit architecture as a “choreography for relationships,” then Modern Living is their conceit to the irreconcilable and poetic dissonance of individual experience amid the seeming synchronicity of a relationship. There are bodies but no corps here. During the performance, not even the audience could maintain a semblance of unity; they too were dispersed throughout the house and forced to (without guidance) choose which portions of the performance to see. The impossibility of viewing everything in its entirety is a form of spectatorship simultaneously democratic and deliberately incomprehensive.
The noon-time performance quietly lulled to a start, and without announcement nine members of the L.A. Dance Project took their places throughout the famed 1921 home and began to move. In a game of kinesthetic telephone, subtle swirls, pivots, and waves were passed along from dancer to dancer. Dance coursed through the sight lines of home; through the panes of sliding glass doors and corridors that pinwheeled around pockets of outdoor space. As typical in Gerard & Kelly’s work, the dancers’ movements were accompanied by speaking. Chronicles of time and flourishes of personal narratives echoed through the space and prompted an acoustic blurring of the disparate rooms and courtyards.
Nearing the end of the hour-long session the dancers coalesced on the front lawn. After an atomized performance, viewers were invited to watch the dancers in full in the final segment. They culled together, chanted, and whispered “the family is the unit of regeneration,” moving so synchronously as a unit that at times their limbs were visually inseparable. In this final movement Gerard & Kelly proffered a last-ditch comfort in the family-unit and the importance of the support of others despite the utter discombobulation of human relationships.
Modern Living was choreographed by Gerard & Kelly and performed by the L.A. Dance Project. Modern Living ran from January 9 and 10, 2016 at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House (835 North Kings Road, West Hollywood, CA 90069).