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Visual Arts at Northwestern in January and More

Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery and University Library exhibitions open to public

  • Block celebrates Charlotte Moorman exhibition opening with special program at Pick-Staiger
  • Block’s “Don’t Throw Anything Out” offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world
  • Deering showcasing exhibits related to Moorman and Northwestern’s Transportation Library
  • Dittmar Gallery reopens Jan. 7 with “Unnatural Growth,” featuring works by Ali Aschman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art will re-open Jan. 16 with a blockbuster exhibition that pays homage to Charlotte Moorman -- a musician, performance artist and advocate of the avant-garde. 

The Block Museum’s Main Gallery show, A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, is the first major exhibition exploring the art and impact of Moorman. It will examine her life, her work, her influence and the vast network of artists across creative fields who were her collaborators in the 1960s through 1980s.

The Block also will host Don't Throw Anything Out: Charlotte Moorman's Archive,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, in the Katz Gallery, an auxiliary exhibition that offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world. 

In addition to a Jan. 16 opening celebration that will include a special program at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, the Block has planned a variety of public performances, conversations and presentations to help the public discover why Charlotte Moorman was called both the “Joan of Arc of New Music” and the “Topless Cellist.” Detailed information on these programs follow.

The upcoming winter and spring 2016 events will provide opportunities to meet artists who participated in Moorman's Annual Avant Garde festivals in New York; and experience experimental performances of works by composers John Cage and Nam June Paik.

In conjunction with the Block exhibitions, Northwestern’s Deering Library will present “Charlotte’s Scene: Archives of the Avant Garde at Northwestern Libraries,” Jan. 11 through July 17, 2016. The exhibit features highlights from four University archives related to Charlotte Moorman and her times: John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jim McWilliams and the ONCE Festival.

Block Cinema screenings will get underway in mid-January with several new film series.

More information related to Winter 2016 will be available online in early January.

Following winter break, Northwestern’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery will re-open with “Unnatural Growth,” Jan. 7 through Feb. 10, featuring animations, sculptures and works on paper by Chicago-based and South African-born multidisciplinary artist Ali Aschman. 

The following Northwestern events will take place on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. All are free and open to the public.

MARY AND LEIGH BLOCK MUSEUM OF ART

Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive on the University’s Evanston campus. More information on Block exhibitions and events is available online or by calling 847-491-4000.

BLOCK 2016 EXHIBITIONS, PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND PERFORMANCES: 

“A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s” exhibition, Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, Block Museum, Main Gallery, 40 Arts Circle Drive. Charlotte Moorman (1933–1991) was a groundbreaking, rule-bending artist, musician and advocate for the experimental art of her time. Trained as a classical cellist, she both performed and championed the works of visual artists, composers and choreographers who were redefining art -- collapsing the boundaries between media and renegotiating the relationships between artist and audience. The Block exhibition explores her performances, the festivals she produced and her commitment to making experimental art accessible to all.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lively menu of lectures, performances, film screenings, artist conversations and pop-up happenings around Northwestern, Evanston and beyond. Details available online.

  • Don't Throw Anything Out: Charlotte Moorman's Archive,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, Block Museum, Katz Gallery. This auxiliary exhibition offers a rare look at Moorman’s private world and includes relics as diverse as childhood essays, answering machine messages, gifts from artist friends and poignant day-by-day accounts of her struggle with cancer. Culled from Northwestern's Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections where the Charlotte Moorman Archive is housed, this exhibition illuminates Moorman's domestic world and working methods and shows her extraordinary dedication to the documentation of her life and artistic milieu.
  • Save the Date: “A Feast of Astonishments” Opening Program and Celebration, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive, Northwestern University. (Exhibition viewing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16. at the Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive.) An astonishing artist deserves an astonishing celebration that will feature a feast of performances, conversations and presentations -- all free and open to the public. Discover why Charlotte Moorman was called both the Joan of Arc of New Music and the Topless Cellist. Meet artists who participated in Moorman’s Annual Avant Garde festivals. And experience experimental performances of works by John Cage and Nam June Paik. More program details available soon. This program is presented in partnership with Northwestern University’s Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music and co-sponsored by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.
  • Gallery Talk: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive.  Exhibition curators will discuss the bold, barrier-breaking performances of Charlotte Moorman, whose Annual Avant Garde Festivals in New York took music, performance, and art out of concert halls and museums and into public spaces such as Central Park, Grand Central Station and Shea Stadium. 
  • Conversation and Performance, Choreographer Simone Forti: Thinking with the Body, 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, The GYM at 640 Lincoln St. (Art Theory & Practice Building) How can we develop a natural and intuitive flow between moving and speaking? What do we learn when our body intelligence and our verbal mind interact? Throughout her career, renowned experimental dancer, choreographer and writer Simone Forti has explored the relationship between dance and language; quotidian movement and performance. This program will combine an interview with Forti on her practice with Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Dance Studies Amanda Jane Graham, with student performances from site-specific workshops Forti will just have conducted on Lake Michigan. Student performances will include “Huddle,” Forti’s seminal 1961 work included in Moorman’s Avant Garde Festivals. This interdisciplinary program is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences’ departments of art history, art theory and practice; the School of Communication’s department of performance studies and dance program; Mellon Dance Studies; and Northwestern’s Poetry & Poetics Colloquium
  • Lecture Demonstration:Dear George...Love, Charlotte”: Fluxus in the Annual Avant Garde Festivals, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, Block Museum. “Dear George… Love Charlotte” will illuminate parts of a social and aesthetic network that connected Charlotte Moorman and the Annual Avant Garde Festivals to Fluxus (an art movement launched in 1961), despite the protestations of Fluxus’ major-domo, George Maciunas. Originating Fluxus artists such as Alison Knowles, Dick Higgins and Jackson Mac Low were regular participants; Yoko Ono, Emmett Williams and George Brecht were represented in performance. Some Fluxus artists picketed the festival in 1964, others performed in it -- a number did both. This international Fluxus family argued, celebrated and created together or through the mail. Incorporating readings and events, Simon Anderson, associate professor of art history, theory and criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Fluxus historian, will discuss their antics and perform some of their work, revealing a few of the elements that divided and conjoined these artists during this transformational period.
  • Performance by Tomeka Reid, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, Block Museum. The repertoire of Chicago-based cellist, composer and educator Tomeka Reid, like that of Charlotte Moorman, spans classical and experimental music. Reid performs internationally with some of today’s most creative musicians, including Dee Alexander’s Evolution Ensemble, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ Great Black Music Ensemble, the string trio Hear in Now, and the Tomeka Reid Quartet, featuring bassist Jason Roebke, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. She has also worked with forward-thinking musicians, including Anthony Braxton, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell and Mike Reed, and has composed commissioned works for the AACM, the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. For this event, Reid will perform live in conjunction with the Block Museum exhibition “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s–1980s,” Jan. 16 through July 17, 2016, Block Museum, Main Gallery, 40 Arts Circle Drive. This program is co-sponsored by the Black Arts Initiative.
  • Department of Art History Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture Series: Timothy Ingold, 5 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 24, Block Museum. In this lecture, Timothy Ingold formulates an alternative to occidental aesthetics by drawing on the knowledge and experience of indigenous peoples of the circumpolar North. Here, beauty is found in the movements of skilled practitioners who respond fluently, with sensitivity and precision, to the nuances of their relationships with human and non-humans. Ingold is chair of social anthropology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. This program is organized by Northwestern’s department of art history.
  • Lecture Demonstration: Moorman, Cage and the Avant-Garde, 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, Block Museum. Using Charlotte Moorman’s own annotated copy of John Cage’s “26’ 1.1499” for a String Player” as inspiration, this program explores her realization of Cage’s indeterminate score. Musicologist Ben Piekut, associate professor of musicology at Cornell University and author of the acclaimed book “Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde and Its Limits,” will share his perspective on the piece and Moorman’s place within the historical moment of the 1960s avant-garde. To complement the program, Jason Rosenholtz-Witt, Northwestern Ph.D., candidate in musicology, and his colleagues will perform excerpts from the score and consider the specific challenges presented by the work and Moorman’s unique approach. This program is presented in partnership with Northwestern's Bienen School of Music.
  • Performance: The Avant-Garde and the Politics of Music, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 10, Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive; 7:30 p.m. Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater in the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, 70 Arts Circle Drive. Charlotte Moorman’s repertoire of performance and musical compositions, and that of many other members of the avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s, reflected the prevailing social and political upheavals of the time, including the anti-war, civil rights and feminist movements. Like many artists today, her art was a means of responding to the world around her. Join the Block, students from the Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music and the Bienen Contemporary Music Ensemble for an evening of socially-engaged performance. The program will begin at the Block, followed by a concert at the Shirley Welsh Ryan Opera Theater in the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts. The Contemporary Music Ensemble will perform Georg Friedrich Haas’ “in vain” (2000), in response to the rise of the right wing Freedom Party in Austria. A new composition by Craig Davis Pinson, Northwestern Ph.D., student in composition, also will debut during the evening. This program is presented in partnership with the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University.
  • Symposium:Performed in the Present Tense, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the GYM at 640 Lincoln St. (art theory and practice building), and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive. “Performed in the Present Tense” is a two-day symposium that investigates the contemporary legacy of Charlotte Moorman’s performances and her dedication to creating forums for experimental, collaborative and boundary-breaking artistic practices. The symposium features artists, curators and scholars who have engaged with (re) performance, performance scores and the curating of performance art. April 8: Northwestern graduate students Didier Morelli, Ira Murfin and Elliot Mercer will perform canonical works by Geoff Hendricks, John Cage and Yvonne Rainer. April 9: Presentations will be made by artist-choreographer Brendan Fernandes, curator Travis Chamberlain (The New Museum) and curator Jenny Schlenzka (MoMA PS1). This program is co-sponsored by Northwestern’s departments of art history, art theory and practice, and performance studies; the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities; the School of Communication’s the dance program and Mellon Dance Studies. 
  • SAVE THE DATE: (time to be announced) Saturday, June 4: ARTS CIRCLE LAUNCH AND FEAST OF ASTONISHMENTS LIVE. Featuring a performance by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, the inflating of late German artist Otto Piene’s sculpture “Grand Rapids Carousel,” a cello “happening” orchestrated by cellists from the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music and Chicagoland; and participatory Fluxus performances. More details to come! This program is presented in partnership with the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University.

DITTMAR GALLERY WINTER 2016 EXHIBITION

Note: The Dittmar Gallery and Norris University Center will be closed during winter break. Hours and locations available online.

  • Ali Aschman, “Unnatural Growth,” Jan. 7 through Feb. 10, Dittmar Memorial Gallery, featuring Chicago-based and South African-born multidisciplinary artist Ali Aschman’s animations, sculptures and works on paper. The winter 2016 show reflects the artists’ struggle with the recurrent theme “in art and literature that oppressively tie women’s bodies to the natural world, but are nonetheless aesthetically seductive.” The exhibition, and an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7, are free and open to the public. The Dittmar also will host an artist lecture and workshop from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, in which Aschman will discuss her work, then demonstrate how to make a stop-motion puppet. Materials will be provided so guests can make their own version. More information available online. 

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

Library hours and locations are available online.

  • Charlotte’s Scene: Archives of the Avant-Garde at Northwestern Libraries, Jan. 11 through July 17, Charles Deering Library, Lobby. Charlotte Moorman electrified the avant-garde scene in 1960s New York with her experimental approaches to music, performance and pure spectacle. While Moorman, whose archive lives in Northwestern’s Deering Library, is the subject of A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s,”Jan. 16 to July 17, 2016, a major installation at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. Deering Library’s “Charlotte’s Scene” exhibit explores the contemporary avant-garde scene before and during her most prolific output. Drawn from the archives of John Cage, Dick Higgins, Jim McWilliams and others (all held by Northwestern’s Music Library and Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections), these objects and images illuminate a time when artists rebelled against the rigidity of postwar culture by challenging -- perhaps even rewriting-- the definitions of art.
  • Making Connections: Unique Gifts to Northwestern’s Transportation Library, Jan. 19 through April 15, Charles Deering Library, Third Floor. Libraries build their holdings deliberately and painstakingly to help researchers make connections between ideas -- but sometimes the “Aha” moment is the result of serendipity, when a collection contributed by a donor yields an unexpected insight, clue or treasure no library could have acquired otherwise. Northwestern's Transportation Library is the happy recipient of many collections donated by industry executives, transportation experts, enthusiasts and historians. This exhibit offers a peek inside these collections, and explores the possibilities of the connections yet to be discovered at the intersection of benefactors and researchers.​ Among the exhibit’s highlights are handmade wooden buses from the William Luke Transportation Collection held by the Northwestern University Transportation Library.

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