Corresponding with Jonah Bokaer is a pas de deux in itself: one in which your partner remains three steps ahead and on a different continent. In collaboration with his non-profit organization Chez Bushwick, Bokaer sourced materials for Flaunt whilst: on a trip to Cannes (where his company opened the Cannes Biennale), on tour, and during rehearsals for “Occupant” (a piece premiering at the Adrienne Arsht Center, December 6–8, in collaboration with visual artist Daniel Arsham).
Through Skype, phone, and email correspondence he casually drops in: his participation in a two-year residency at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he’s building a choreographic app (it’s his third); an architectural map of the Guggenheim made available in the lead-up to his 2011 commissioned performance “On Vanishing”; and his thoughts on the act of choreography as a (mostly) private form of expression.
Here, the results of this neo-contact improv; Bokaer allows us to examine his orchestration and choreographic arrangement of the physical form through the graphic notations that aid in the eventual public display of those arrangements.
Commissioned by the Brooklyn Art Museum for the Next Wave Festival, “Eclipse” was a collaboration between Jonah Bokaer and visual artist Anthony McCall that integrated choreography, light, visual design, and an audio-visual time score to arrive at altered perceptions of a performance.
“This is a structural image. We created the production ‘Eclipse’ for four people, which was inaugurated at the BAM Richard B. Fisher Building in 2012. The above is a drawing by artist Anthony McCall of a nine-minute section within the piece. Choreographically, I reproduced 216 drawings for the piece. It also comprises a larger graphic notation score system.”
“The opening nine minutes of ‘Eclipse’ took place within a grid of 36 lights, whose patterns slowly moved, shifted, and changed. To choreograph this passage for four dancers, I created the score above, to design their trajectories in space.”
One of 150 prints made by Jonah Bokaer to celebrate Sean Kelly and his commitment to live performance, through a special program of choreography on October 21, 2013, for the benefit of the nonprofit organization Chez Bushwick. The edition of 150 also includes five artist proofs and five copies given to the directors of Sean Kelly Gallery. Graphic animation software has been employed in Bokaer’s work since 2002, and is rendered in the form of a score before being taught to his dancers.
During a five-year collaborative relationship (following an introduction at age 26 by Merce Cunningham) Jonah Bokaer and Daniel Arsham developed their own forms of communication. In that time period the artists created five works—illustrating “themes of spatial reorientation, disruption of the human body in relation to its surrounding built environment, visual performance intervention, displacement of materials, and a re-imagination of rectilinear stage space”—that have exhibited throughout Europe and North and Central America. Their latest project “Occupant” (premiering at the Adrienne Arsht Center December 6th-8th), examines “pattern recognition and perceptual faculties as they apply to choreography and design.” A nod to the Occupy Movement, “Occupant” mimics the behavior of crowds—and the intricacies of the entity participants become―during its 30-minute movement.
“The Occupant game is a graphic notation score, which I created in software for the performance of ‘Occupant’ premiering at the Adrienne Arsht Center. It provides a series of games, rules, and spatial ideas for the dancers to explore onstage, with the scenography.”