By Monica Delgado

The proposals of American artist and filmmaker Sarah Friedland have been based on materializing some concepts of choreographic art as an organized practice, but transferred to the realm of the everyday and familiar, which transforms the nature of the action and does not necessarily make it obvious. That is to say, Friedland uses choreographies as forms, as tools to reconstruct performative acts of bodies, but for actions that have a specific repetition, duration or frequency on a day-to-day basis, in the way we relate to, or face our daily lives. and as part of a larger social entity.

Unlike the choreographers who design movements, who organize and model them, Friedland starts from the investigation, from some thesis that she wants to prove, be it historical or even epistemological. While in Home Exercises (2017) she explores the routines of older adults based on recreations of movements found in films from the 50s and 60s, in Drills (2020) she also recreates various postulates based on film or educational material from the Cold War on various protocols that start from the control of the body, in this case from some harmless-looking Boy Scout exercises, although also set in an office or a high school classroom. And in CROWDS (2019) these premises of these two short films extend to the field of performance, of the interrelation with space and the use of three channels that are seen simultaneously.

CROWDS registers a group of people participating in a specific choreography that narratively speaking has clear parts: the meeting of the group, the acceptance of specific community rules, the identification of the space (a huge residential courtyard), the alienation and the separation of the group. This story becomes more complex not in its linearity, but from the viewer’s participation, and from the points of view that Friedland has chosen for each channel (as in the photo that opens this article). The first one, which shows the recording from a great general shot in a dive, from the heights of some building that allows us to see the patio in a complete way, and the dancers there to develop the choreography. The second channel, which is located on one side of the patio, and which is based on light tracking shots that show another spatial dimension, linked to the trajectory of the movements of the characters. And the third channel, which closely follows the characters, and which breaks the uniqueness of the great choreographic corpus that the dancers or participants form. These three channels, in the gallery installation, are seen one after the other, but that allows the viewer to be attentive in some way to what the other channels offer. There is a perception of that tripartite whole. And this experience is transferred to the virtual, in Assembled Choreographies, and this is what Friedland proposes, by the hand of Almudena Escobar López for the virtual exhibition at the Hartnett Gallery, which runs for free until April 26.

In an interview conducted by José Sarmiento Hinojosa last year, Sarah Friedland talked about CROWDS (2019) “I was trying to understand the choreography of different ideologies and the intrinsic choreographic language embedded in how we think, speak and exist in different collectives and congregations. I believe that the understanding of that language is, in many ways, so well-known and so basic, though rarely articulated.” Precisely the perception of the community through the tensions or encounters of the crowds is what is perceived in the conceptual proposal of this work by Friedland, also a choreographer, whose work is located in the investigation of images and bodies in movement, but not from autonomy or immanence but in absolute relation to social learning, in its codes and conventions, in the social pacts that sustain them. The movements of these multitudes are not the product of the choreographic formula but of the study of some impositions or models applied to the peoples throughout specific political systems and contexts (such as fascism). It is inevitable from the sound and visual work that this CROWDS brings us closer to memories of totalitarianisms, but also of the oscillations and desires for freedom of the forms of the multitudes.

CROWDS requires an experiential intervention from the viewer, and this premise of the installation is perfectly captured -and in a simple way-in the design offered by the website, guaranteeing a walk through the channels of the original installation. For Assembled Choreographies, Friedland has designed a digital interface with artist and new media designer Jonas Eltes, which includes not only the three channels, but an interview with researcher and programmer Tess Takahashi, as well as the screening of Home exercises and Drills.

Direction, choreography and editing by Sarah Friedland
Curator: Almudena Escobar López
Web design by Jonas Eltes
Website concept by: Sarah Friedland and Jonas Eltes
Text by Sarah Friedland and Tess Takahashi
Editing by Almudena Escobar López
Produced by Brighid Greene and Sarah Friedland

Executive production by Brigel Gjoka and Mattia Gandini, and Art Factory International Production
With the participation of: Sabina Aeschlimann, Aranxa Alvarez, Bruno Barón Escobedo, Mariana Calazans, Julia Canard, Alessia Fuiano, Felipe Fizkal, Félicité Guillo, Saphir Lise Legrand, Beatrice Leonardi, Clarisse Mialet, Iida Elise Murumets, Giuliana Nanna, Garazi Prieto Foruria , Agata Pankowska, David Ramalho, Carminda Soares, Maria R. Soares, Vajdaan Shah, Rosie Tong, Linda Zaniboni, Chloé Zermatten
Director of photography: Luca Nervegna
Sound design: Denera James and Assaf Gidron
Additional sound design: Alberto Martino
Camera: Andrea Grossi
Camera assistant: Luce Bertani and Egidio Iorio
Sound Mix: Giuseppe Tripo