Squares Do Not (Normally) Appear In Nature

Office for a Human Theatre (OHT)

September 23, 2014

A performance installation inspired by Josef Albers, the concept of abstractness and unicorns
11–12 October 2014

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MART, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Corso Bettini 43
Rovereto 38068
Italy

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Squares Do Not (normally) Appear In Nature confronts the audience with an aural and visual space: 13 experiments of sound and vision without the use of performers. The work’s basis is the awareness of colours via certain protagonists: light, mist, glass, font and image. This is akin to how apparently abstract themes are the actors of Josef Albers’s research of reality.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, abstract has nine definitions, of which the most applicable is 4.a.: “Withdrawn or separated from matter, from material embodiment…Opposite to concrete.” From the Latin, abstractus  means “drawn away.” In visual arts, the sense of abstract painting is a composition with a certain or total degree of independence from the real world. This action of drawing away is the key aspect of this work. This action is further underscored when taken together with the questioning of how theatre redefines itself by apparently drawing away an action. What is left?

The piece builds on how Albers himself drew away when he left the Bauhaus for America. He was not only traveling across the Atlantic to a new life in the US, but also to a deeper kind of observation–one that brought him to the essence of how the world and objects are built and thus perceived. Observation is connected to the physical action of seeing. Albers’s words and criteria, as much as his materials–his palette and his objects–visually connect the audience to a renewed kind of narration. A slowed down narration, which brings the audience to terms with unfamiliar references and his/her own predisposition to open eyes. An attitude that Albers has already envisaged with his work. Perception, as Albers conceived it in his teaching, from the years of Bauhaus to Black Mountain College and Yale, is now on stage.

Squares Do Not (normally) Appear In Nature is a line by Albers himself, and the project is first of all an invitation to hear, see and spend time. As the title suggests, this work also regards nature and what normally doesn’t appear in it. In particular, the performance dramatizes abstract effects by staging natural phenomena such as rainbows and the northern lights. This specific choice deconstructs the misleading convention that abstract art is too impersonal or cold. No wonder that Elaine de Kooning noted “however impersonal his paintings might at first appear, not one of them could have been painted by any one but Josef Albers himself.”

About Josef Albers
Josef Albers was born on March 19, 1888, in Bottrop, Westphalia. He enrolled in the Bauhaus in Weimar in 1920, and in 1923, he was appointed to be instructor of the Preliminary Course. In 1933, Albers immigrated with his wife, Anni Albers, to the United States, where he created an art department at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. In 1950, Albers started his “Homage to the Square” series of paintings and in the same year he accepted the appointment as Chair of the Department of Design at Yale University. In 1963, Yale University Press published Albers’s Interaction of Color, demonstrating the principles of Albers’s exploration of the mutability and relativity of color and based on his renowned teaching of color. In 1971, Josef Albers was the first living artist to have a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

About OHT
Office for a Human Theatre (OHT) was established in 2008, after winning Nuove Sensibilità, a national prize for young theatre directors at the Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, and since then it has achieved Italian and international collaborations including, more recently:
–The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation (USA): Squares Do Not (normally) Appear In Nature, a project on Josef Albers
–Whitechapel Art Gallery, London: buzz, a video installation included in the exhibition Twix Two World, curated by Gaia Tedone
–Italian Cultural Institute of Vienna: residency for Self-Portrait with two friends, debut summer 2014
–MAXXI-Museo delle arti del XXI secolo, Rome: Delirious New York is included in the exhibition Open City—Open Museum curated by Hou Hanru as artistic director of the Roman institution in 2014
–MADRE and Teatro Pubblico Campano, Naples: in 2009 the installation/performance Bios Unlimited was shown in connection with the collection of the museum
–Palazzo Grassi, Venice: installation work Real-Time Polaroid
Finally, MART Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto has frequently been partner of various of the mentioned projects and many others, either for productions or for premieres.

Credits
Squares Do Not (normally) Appear In Nature
by OHT | Office for a Human Theatre

with the support of The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, CT, USA
a production by OHT, Provincia Autonoma di Trento

in collaboration with
Regione Trentino Alto-Adige
MART, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Punto Luce Sas
artistic residency Centrale Fies (Italy), Albers Foundation (USA)

concept and directing by Filippo Andreatta
scientific research by Chiara Spangaro
mechanical movements and wonder by Paola Villani
set-design by Filippo Andreatta and Paola Villani
music staging by Roberto Rettura
duration 53 minutes

Thanks to Annalisa Casagranda, Brenda Danilowitz, Fritz Horstman, Francesca Leonelli, Alessandra Klimciuk, Nick Murphy, Matteo Nasini, Jeannette Redensek, and Nicholas Fox Weber.

OHT | Office for a Human Theatre
via dell’amicizia 56
Rovereto 38068
Italy