Carolyn Lazard explores legacy of dance film through Lens of Accessibility in new commision at ICA

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Carolyn Lazard explores legacy of dance film through Lens of Accessibility in new commision at ICA
Carolyn Lazard, Leans, Reverses (still), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Maxwell Graham/ Essex Street.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- This spring, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) presents the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Carolyn Lazard (b. 1987). Co- commissioned with the Walker Art Center and Nottingham Contemporary, Carolyn Lazard: Long Take explores the social and aesthetic dimensions of accessibility through documentation and performance. Featuring an immersive multi-channel video and sound work anchored by four sculptures that reimagine existing ICA seating for media viewing, the exhibition encourages visitors to reconsider the form in which an artwork resides and why sight has been privileged in the spectatorship of dance.

On view from March 10 through July 9, 2023, Carolyn Lazard: Long Take furthers ICA’s mission of providing a platform for ascendant artists who spark dialogues on key contemporary issues and builds upon its commitment to advancing interdisciplinary practices. The exhibition is co-curated by Meg Onli, who served as Andrea B. Laporte Associate Curator at ICA from 2016 through 2021 and currently is the co- curator of the 2024 Whitney Biennial. A special conversation between Onli and Lazard is taking place at ICA on March 11. For more information and to register for the event is available here.

“Carolyn Lazard’s work looks beyond material constraints of medium and utilizes both traditional and non- traditional techniques to engage visitors in pressing conversations on access, debility, and the arts,” said Zoë Ryan, the ICA’s Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director. “This exhibition marks a homecoming of sorts for Carolyn, who is an alum of the University of Pennsylvania and whose work the ICA has long followed and championed. It has been especially rewarding to collaborate again with Meg Onli, who is intimately familiar with our mission as well as with Carolyn’s creative practice, to actualize their vision for this new commission.”

Through Long Take, Lazard examines the legacy of dance for the camera through the lens of accessibility as a creative tool. A sound installation anchors the work, which includes a recorded reading of a dance score, the sound of a dancer’s movement and breath, and an audio description. To create the sound piece, Lazard provided dancer and choreographer Jerron Herman with an original dance score, filmed his performance, and subsequently collaborated with poet and artist Joselia Rebekah Hughes on the audio description of the filmed recording.

The resulting work intentionally blurs the boundaries between movement, description, and translation. By presenting this dance work using text and sound rather than visually, Lazard examines how a performance might be communicated beyond its image and encourages us to think about ways that artworks are made accessible. The work also places new emphasis on the often-unseen networks of care, labor, and friendship that make collaborative endeavors possible.

The exhibition at the ICA is experienced within a gallery covered with vinyl flooring mats harkening to a dance studio. Within the space, Lazard places existing ICA seating, reimagined and altered by Lazard with cushioning, backrests, and height adjustments. Through this sculptural intervention, the seating becomes more suitable for longer stays and more welcoming for visitors with varying access needs. Following the exhibition’s opening, a text-based description of the gallery experience will be available in both text and digital braille formats.

“Carolyn Lazard’s artistic practice brings to the fore perspectives on care that are pivotal to sparking change across fields, modeling how artistic process and artwork can be in service to restorative practices. As a longtime collaborator and interlocutor, their work has deeply shaped my personal curatorial practice and I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate on their first solo presentation in the United States, particularly in Philadelphia where we both have deep roots,” said Onli.

Artist and writer Carolyn Lazard (b. 1987, California) is an artist working across disciplines and mediums in Philadelphia and New York. Their work explores the politics and aesthetics of care under capitalism, centering dependency as a site of abundance and collectivity. In their practice, Lazard questions the way society values efficiency and ability over life itself.

Lazard has published numerous texts including “The World is Unknown,” with Triple Canopy in 2019; “Accessibility and the Arts: A Promise and A Practice,” with Recess and Common Field in 2019; and “How to Be a Person in the Age of Autoimmunity,” with Cluster Magazine in 2013. Lazard received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Grant; and The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Fellowship, both in 2019; The Flaherty Fellowship; Wynn Newhouse Award; and Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant (with Canaries Collective), all in 2016. Lazard holds a BA in Film and Anthropology from Bard College and earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Lazard received solo exhibitions at Cell Project Space, London, and Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany, in 2021. They have also participated in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, California; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and The Kitchen, New York, New York.

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