Soft Network’s Spring programming, Future Variations, will be presented at Showroom, an experimental, collaborative space shared between artist estate leaders, art historians, artists and fashion workers, allowing for opportunities to build direct and indirect conversations between cultural platforms. Future Variations includes artwork and ephemera from select resident estates and archives combined with contributions by contemporary artists organized by visual artist and co-founder of Soft Network, Sara VanDerBeek.
For the exhibition at Showroom Kamau Amu Patton presents Transition/Discontinuity (Dance for Camera) a moving-image record of a performance at Mills College in 2009. Realized through software designed by Patton with Bay Area programmers, the video is the result of live capture and processing of dance movements to generate new sound and image sequences. Also included is his Field Drawing, 2011 and a new self portrait Phosphor I, 2021. An installation of quilted textile and image works by Alisha B. Wormsley includes imagery from her ongoing Children of Nan archive. Her collaborative video work with Li Harris, Journey to Pythia, 2022 will also be screening. Both works feature performers, artists and family members from Wormsley's Pittsburgh community.
The interdisciplinary works included by Patton and Wormsley as well as the archival works on view such as an original photograph from Susan Brockman’s 1974 experimental film Depot - described by the artist as an homage and satire of Ruth St. Denis’ elaborate photographic tableau - and a collage made during the publishing of Stan VanDerBeek’s 1965 manifesto Culture Intercom, propose the generative nature of re-mediation and re-performance.
Collage, as an expansive and inclusive practice that is accumulative and at times interactive is enacted in various ways by all the artists included in Future Variations. Works range in time and approach yet all are driven by a desire to engage and connect with the larger community. Examples include an early Ray Johnson collage or “motico” created shortly after his time at Black Mountain College using fragments from previous artworks; four selected works from Rosemary Mayers’ In Time Order, in which various personal photographic images are included with mixed-media textual renderings; and Sara VanDerBeek’s new kinetic, two-part photographic work, Future Variations II.
The presentation at Showroom will evolve over the course of the exhibition with new works being added at different intervals such as the installation of Rosemary Mayer’s 1974 sculpture Portae. The space will also be used at times as a workshop by the exhibition’s contemporary participants, Kamau Amu Patton, Sara VanDerBeek and Alisha B. Wormsley, to interpret and re-imagine past works of their own and of others. This will culminate in a workshop/performance by the artists exploring Variations V, a collaborative intermedia work from 1965 and the inspiration for Future Variations.
Variations V, combined film, dance, animation and sound into a sensorial and durational experience. Led by John Cage and Merce Cunningham with moving images by Nam June Paik and Stan VanDerBeek, the project brought together over fifteen practitioners from experimental dance, sound and moving image for a simultaneous live and mediated performance. The progressive nature of this historical work and what it proposed encourages the furthering of its experimentation, interfaces and outcomes.
Collaborative engagements amongst the artists as well as the estates and archives currently working in Showroom, including the Estate of Rosemary Mayer, Estate of Susan Brockman and Stan VanDerBeek Archive, will inform a series of events, performances and discussions around archival interactions and interpretation as a collective transfer of knowledge between past and present practitioners.
All programming will be presented in-person as well as for transmission. Showroom is open to the public during scheduled events and by appointment. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit or check softnetwork.art for the weekly schedule and event recordings.