6 days in New York

Thanks to a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship, Neon Dance Choreographer and Artistic Director Adrienne Hart spent 6 days in New York in April 2019 where she met with programmers and curators interested in presenting her work ‘Puzzle Creature’, an hour long performance work inspired by the artist / architect duo Arakawa and Madeline Gins. She also spent time researching Arakawa and Gins archives at the Reversible Destiny Foundation to help inform future projects.

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Having spent 2 years researching and developing Neon’s latest work ‘Puzzle Creature’, which has been inspired by artist / architect duo Arakawa and Madeline Gins, it was wonderful to spend time in New York, the city that Arakawa and Gins called home for 40+ years and discover more about their lives and the work they created together.

On my first day, I was able to attend the Arakawa exhibition ‘Diagrams for the Imagination’ at the Gagosian Gallery, which is around the corner from Central Park. I then took a short walk to Castelli Gallery to see some of Arakawa’s very early work, which is rarely on display. I had read so much about his coffin series and have collected books and digital images of his later work included in the Diagrams for the Imagination exhibition. However, on encountering the artworks in person, I thought about the power of experiencing objects in person; material and maker intertwined through a process, and as such how artworks can acquire a viscous nature. The paint on canvas or cement fashioned into forms, cushioned by padded material and set within a wooden box, sticking and having a more lasting impact than their digital counterpart. Experiencing Arakawa’s works in person, I was reminded that every time you copy a jpg image, more holes appear and information is lost. It made me think about sharing work in the online sphere. 

The next day, I attended a screening of Arakawa's experimental film from 1971 "For Example (A Critique of Never)" at the Emily Harvey Foundation. This film was originally premiered at the Whitney Museum in 1972. Along with the Reversible Destiny team we then headed over to Pioneer Works in Red Hook for the venues Second Sunday event. Pioneer Works is an artist-run cultural centre, which opened in 2012. Imagined by its founder, artist Dustin Yellin, as a place in which artist, scientists, and thinkers converge. The three-story redbrick building was built in 1866 for what was then Pioneer Iron Works. We walked around the gallery and watched a local band play, upstairs housed a tech lab with 3-D printer, virtual environment lab, recording studios and so much more. 

Pioneer Works

Pioneer Works

Having been invited to talk at Columbia University in 2018 at the opening of the exhibition ‘Arakawa and Madeline Gins: Eternal Gradient’, it was so nice to catch up with the curator Irene Sunwoo. I also had the pleasure to catch up with American choreographer and media artist Jonah Bokaer who mentored me 10 years ago! I met with a diverse range of venues, organisations and institutions during the 6 day trip including MASS MoCA, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, CUNY Graduate Center, Japan Society, Harkness Dance Center and Danspace Project. 

Hanging out with the Reversible Destiny Foundation team, I managed two trips to the archive where materials including poetry, paintings and architectural plans by Arakawa and Madeline Gins reside. There’s so much more than I could possibly have explored on this short trip however the team helped me refine my search and find materials that relate to my current project; developing a site specific version of Puzzle Creature for Setouchi Art Triennale. The site we’ve chosen for the performance is Kou beach on Teshima Island (Japan). I’m especially grateful to ST who picked out some experiments and proposals that were never realised and reminded me of a chapter in one of Madeline Gins’ published books titled ‘Critical Beach’. These works demonstrate the sheer breadth of A&G’s legacy and its ability to transcend genre, medium and time.

Board Member - Call Out

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Interested in becoming a Neon Dance trustee? We're searching for individuals with a drive for culture and collaboration who have the commitment to contribute to our future strategic development!

Having embarked on a series of profile raising performances and commissions in 2018 we’re currently working towards becoming a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Interested in supporting Neon Dance develop as an organisation? Find out more about becoming a trustee here:

Setouchi Island Visit, Japan

Neon’s Adrienne Hart travelled to the Setouchi region of Japan in early February 2019. As a participating artist of Setouchi Art Triennale, she visited several islands in the Seto inland sea to find a site for ‘Puzzle Creature’, which will be performed as one of the many artworks during Setouchi Art Triennale’s Autumn season…

Teshima Island

Teshima Island

After a much needed post flight sleep, I took a boat with Hiroki Ohishi (Art Front Gallery) and Momoyo Homma (Reversible Destiny Foundation) from Takamutsu Port to Honjima island. We hired bikes and at first came across more cats than people! A friendly elder pointed out artworks and when informed that I was a visiting artist participating in Setouchi Art Triennale she requested ‘something spectacular’. The permanent Setouchi artworks on the island echo Honjima’s maritime heritage and we came across a beautifully preserved port town that was once a center of trade and shipbuilding during the Edo Period (1600-1867). 

Our next stop after a lunch of soba noodles was Takamijima island. Takamijima is suffering from severe depopulation and has less than 30 inhabitants. We came across two fisherman gathering their octopus pots and climbed empty cobblestone-walled paths to a former school. 

The next day we took a boat to Teshima island, home to Teshima Art Museum and permanent sound installation Les Archives du Coeur ("Heart Archives") by Christian Boltanski. Our hearts skipped a beat or two on encountering a wild boar and a short car ride to Shima Kitchen took in spectacular views. Monthly birthday parties are organised by Art Setouchi for the island people in the restaurant, which aims to connect people through ‘food and art’. Spending time on this magical island you would never have guessed that it suffered from illegal industrial waste dumping. After a court ruled in favour of the islanders in 1996, Teshima is very much a reversible destiny story! 

More about Setouchi Art Triennale.



Setouchi Triennale 2019

Neon Dance have been announced as one of the participating artists at Setouchi Triennale 2019, an international contemporary arts festival held every three years across 12 ‘art islands’ in Japan. Like many rural parts of Japan, the islands in the Seto Inland Sea have been suffering from depopulation in recent decades, while their remaining residents have been aging at a rapid pace, causing a wide range of problems. One of the festival's main goals is to counteract these trends and revitalize the region in a sustainable and creative way by bringing contemporary art and tourism onto the islands. The festival features over 150 artworks by artists from both Japan and overseas, many of whom make use of abandoned homes to host or even become their art installations, helping to reinvent the area as a haven for world-class art. More info coming soon!

Youth Review / PuzzleCreature

Libby an ACE Youth group dancer and current member of Birmingham Centre for Advanced Dance Training reviews Neon Dance / PuzzleCreature after attending our 17th October performance at the Patrick Centre in Birmingham…

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PuzzleCreature was a fascinating fusion of arts pulled together to create an inspiring trio accessible to an extensive amount of people. The concept of the piece came from architectural designs by Arakawa and Madeline Gins; these often looked into science and experimenting, but most famously their expedition which explored the theme death. Within the piece the use of British and Japanese sign language alongside spoken description was a great asset as it made it an expression of inclusion which in itself is something to be celebrated.

From the moment we arrived outside the theatre we knew this was not a normal performance. As we entered the inflatable dome and were able to explore the ‘stage’ and sit anywhere you pleased; we could get up close to the artefacts hanging from the ceiling, much like molds of different body parts which later were incorporated into the choreography. The incredible set design set the imagination free before the dancers even entered the immersive space.

The dancers climbed into the set with absolute composure where they shared the stage with their audience members. The articulate movements alongside the dancers impressive technical abilities allowed for mesmerising choreography including complex contact work, with their bodies intertwining organically yet fluidly. The artefacts were wearable and came into play as they seemed to manipulate the dancers and influence how they moved individually and in partner work which I found thoroughly intriguing.

We then stepped out of the dome and joined the dancers on top. Slightly deflated, they used the remaining air in the set beneath them to manipulate and send ‘wave-like’ impulses across the space; it cleverly acted as an catalyst for more movement, which I thought looked physically extremely effective especially as the audience were invited upon the dome so you really felt a part of the performance.

I really enjoyed the experience as not only have I never been involved in anything like this, the movement style and inventive set designs really grabbed my attention and made me really invest in the whole production. I’m fortunate enough to be working with the choreographer Adrienne Hart in April 2019 as part of the Birmingham CAT programme so I am intrigued and excited to learn more about the work and embrace some of these concepts for myself as a dancer.

Catch our final tour date at Swindon Dance on the 16th November!

Cultural Connectors Respond

At the beginning of September we recruited a series of Cultural Connectors between the age of 18 - 24 and gave them the brief to find inventive ways to encourage their peers to watch Neon’s latest work PuzzleCreature. We had a fantastic group join us from around the UK and we’ve been loving their unique responses to the work. We’re really happy to share a few responses and reactions to PuzzleCreature below. Explore Youtube dance poetry, textile wall hangings, postcard designs and a graphic artwork, all responding to the PuzzleCreature performance experience. A massive thank you to Izzy, Rin, Lucia, Jorja, Arseca, Christiana and Abbey for taking part.

Where was I? Being within a structured space: my response to 'PuzzleCreature', a new multi-disciplinary dance performance inspired by the death-eluding architecture designs of Arakawa and Madeline Gins. The piece was choreographed by Adrienne Hart. I worked with the company as a Cultural Connector, and saw a performance at The Place, London on 13th October.

Graphic artwork by Rin Terada.

Graphic artwork by Rin Terada.

A postcard design inspired by PuzzleCreature, created by Saiko Otake.

A postcard design inspired by PuzzleCreature, created by Saiko Otake.

Neon Dance’s ‘Cultural Connectors’ has been a paid opportunity made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England Project Grant funding.

'Drum Pyramid' premieres on Fluid Radio

A track from PuzzleCreature’s score premieres on Fluid Radio!

Neon Dance commissioned composer Sebastian Reynolds to create new work PuzzleCreature’s score for 8 speakers. ‘Drum Pyramid’ (stereo mix) is now available to stream online exclusively via Fluid Radio and features guest percussionist Greig Stuart.

Watch PuzzleCreature live:

5th/6th Oct – Tramway, Glasgow
10th – Cornerstone, Didcot
12th/13th – The Place, London
17th/18th – DanceXchange, Birmingham
16th Nov – Swindon Dance, Wiltshire