Awardee: Ann Carlson

Performing Arts, 2016

Ann Carlson borrows from the disciplines of dance, performance, theater, visual and conceptual art, often dismantling conventional boundaries between artist and subject. Ann’s work takes the form of solo dance/performance, site-specific projects, ensemble theatrical works and performance/video. She often works within a series format, creating socially-engaged performance structures over a period of years that adapt and tour to multiple sites. In l986 Carlson began a series of performances made with and performed by people gathered together by a common profession, activity or shared passion. Lawyers, security officers, nuns, fly fishermen, poker players, physicians, gardeners, a farmer and her dairy cow have all performed in works by Carlson. The Symphonic Body builds on this body of work; individuals come together in concert to renew and re-experience the artistry embedded in the everyday. 

Project: The Symphonic Body

The Symphonic Body is a performance made entirely of gestures. Ann Carlson becomes an “embedded artist” in a work place, city, organization or institution to build The Symphonic Body. Through a process of observation and interview, she works one-on-one with each participant to build a choreographed portrait from the gestures they use everyday. Gradually, the individual gestures are joined together to make up the moving fabric of this  “orchestral” score.  The movement-based “music” made in The Symphonic Body is a blend of unwitting, everyday gesture transformed into a kind of dance. For the final performance, participants are seated as in an orchestral arrangement, all dressed in black. Carlson conducts this 45-minute performance-work live.