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Evaluating the Arts Essay

The two pieces of art I have chosen to write about are both performance art pieces by Trisha Brown. Brown is a postmodern performance artist whose work is shown throughout the United States, although mostly in small, liberal arts colleges, such as Mills College in California. All of her works are considered to be extremely experimental, as well as extremely contemporary and postmodern. The first work is Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. However, the actual still shot is called Walking on the Wall, and for our purposes, this is what will be studied. The still frame involves five bodies, all literally suspended, walking on a wall.

The five dancers are in no particular order. They are simply walking, in order, at any pace, down the wall. This 1971 piece was designed to be performed at a specific site, with the dancers suspended in harnesses, moving along the wall. The wonder of this piece of art is that there is absolutely no metaphorical meaning. Now, that is not to say that there is no deeper meaning. There certainly is. But the piece is viewed by artists as completely unconventional, because this piece was originally a dance of sorts. However, there are no standard five positions of the feet, as seen in conventional, classical ballet.

There was no music, no stage set, nothing. It was simply movement, and gravity. Brown was trying to have the audience understand that art does not need to have some sort of deeper meaning in order to be valuable; that’s already been done. The most intriguing part about this piece of art is the colors that were used. As it is all in black, whites, and grays, those shades become the center of the piece, as well as the shadows. Because the shadows point in different directions, it is difficult for the eye to simply focus on one section. In addition, this piece was made in the late 1970’s.

Of course, it was extremely controversial, as the form of dance that was en vogue at the time were Balanchine’s classical ballerinas, who of course performed classical and neoclassical works. This was meant to be a rebellion of that form of work. The second piece of artwork I have chosen is a still of Brown’s Roof Piece (1973. ) Much like Walking on the Wall, this piece was created as a postmodern response to art. In Roof Piece, the dancers were on twelve different rooftops over a ten-block area throughout New York City. Each dancer would transmit movements to a dancer on the nearest roof.

Therefore, this was actually an improvisational piece. In addition, Brown’s artistic intent was to create a piece of art that had no metaphorical or symbolic meaning. In the still frame of this piece, it is easy to see the fluid, yet also geometric design of the dancers. Of course, this still frame is also in black and white. However, what is particularly interesting about this piece is the way in which the background of New York City is blurry, while the dancer is in perfect focus. The artist obviously intended for the dancer to be the only one in the spotlight.

With the busy connotations of the City, it is quite refreshing to see the dancer juxtaposed against the city. In addition, it is almost as if the dancer has been suspended in time, as if the dancer stopped moving so the photographer could find a good shot.

Works Cited

“Roof Piece: Brown. ” Ncf. Carleton. 20 Aug. 2007 . “Trisha Brown Dance Company: Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. ” Tate Online. Tate Online. 20 Aug. 2007 .

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