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"Dancing on the Ceiling" at EMPAC 


An upside-down kitchen. Floating performers. An isolation tank. Skateboarders freed from physical laws. It’s all part of “Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity,” a major group exhibition in which contemporary artists explore the condition and metaphor of weightlessness at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center on the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. The artworks in the exhibition deploy helium, parabolic flight, rigging, and digital effects, displayed throughout the public spaces at EMPAC, untethered from traditional exhibition strategies.

Three video installations will occupy EMPAC’s Studio 2, forming the flickering heart of “Dancing”: William Forsythe’s Antipodes I & II examine the destabilizing habits of bodily movement in relation to gravity. Jane and Louise Wilson’s Stasi City is a psychological investigation of the former headquarters of the East German secret police. Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of the Eye locks individual actors in a frozen moment, defying gravity and time.
Kathleen Forde, director of Time-Based Arts at EMPAC, curated the show. “Dancing” will be accompanied by an exhibition catalog including essays by Italo Calvino, as well as interviews with commissioned artists Chris Doyle and Thom Kubli. Other artists featured in the exhibition include Tomas Saraceno, Julia Fullerton-Batten, Edith Dekyndt, Denis Darzacq, and Benjamin Bergmann.

(Also at EMPAC in March: digital arts collective The OpenEnded Group premiere’s Upending, an experimental 3D-animation set to a new recording of Morton Feldman’s First String Quartet by the FLUX Quartet on March 25 and 26. Tickets are $15.)

“Dancing on the Ceiling: Art & Zero Gravity” will be exhibited March 18 through Saturday, April 10 at EMPAC, on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 18, beginning at 6pm. At 7pm, special effects legend Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, Blade Runner), followed by a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Other events related to the exhibition: On Thursday, March 25 at 6pm, a panel discussion organized by Rensselaer School of Architecture “Inhabiting Other Worlds: Microgravity, Perception, Physiology and Design,” will feature Rachel Armstrong (Bartlett School of Architecture), Heidi deBlock (Albany Medical Center), Ted Krueger (School of Architecture, RPI), and Deepak Vashishth (BioMedical Engineering, RPI). On Thursday, April 8 at 6:30pm, curator Kathleen Forde will lead a tour of the exhibition. At 7:30pm that evening, Man on Wire, the Academy Award-winning documentary about Phillipe Petit’s tightrope walk between the towers of the World Trade Center, will be screened. (518) 276-4135; www.empac.rpi.edu.

click to enlarge Julia Fullerton-Batten, "Cupboards," photograph, 48" x 56" x 3", 2007
  • Julia Fullerton-Batten, "Cupboards," photograph, 48" x 56" x 3", 2007

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