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Art experienced secondhand—through images in books, verbal or written description—comes with an inbuilt sense of having missed out; recorded performance art is at least cut with the thrill of surveillance. Simone Forti’s recorded News Animation: Bennington College (2003), included as part of On an Iron Post, her current exhibition at The Box, avoids the corruptions of organic recollection, while flattening the experience of watching a live performance. Forti is in her element, making movement out of news-of-the-day prompts, yet, recorded, performs for a small or singular audience rather than the contemporary crowd somewhere beyond the frame.
Forti does make films in which she performs, distinct from films of her performances. In Zuma News (2014) she digs and writhes at a mid-tempo pace over a bed of kelp, newspaper and wet sand. Traces of order at work—some imperative to keep the papers in a loose pile despite the wind at the titular beach—are fleeting; Forti’s appearance vacillates between purposeful and confused.
Forti’s films speak in a both subtle and highly personal, seemingly impenetrable jargon—though do so in tandem with collectively shared symbols (Flag in the Water’s titular emblem) and mass media (Zuma News). The results are process-driven to a fault: tangential and funny, sure, but also obscure, even flimsy. The second of the Box’s smaller rooms centers entirely around Forti’s process; this strange feedback loop foregrounds nearly all the work on display. Improvisation, for Forti, is key: but the Cage-ian procession from here to wherever beckons both the ineffable and the aimless.
Simone Forti: On An Iron Post runs November 14, 2015-January 9, 2016 at The Box (805 Traction Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90013)