Dimensions: Extract from 40' performance with ten dancers
Catalogued: p129 Lucy Orta, Phaidon Press UK 2003
Exhibition history: 1996 La Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
Commissioned by La Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, for the performance program Soirées Nomades, Modular Architecture marks Lucy Orta’s first collaboration with contemporary dance. Imagined both as an installation and a 40’ dance performance, the sculptures were interconnected by large visual floor-signifiers - Habiter un espace c’est le prendre pour corps - The social link weaves the physical link.
Using the Modular Architectre sculptures, the dancers explore and define a personal space before negotiating a partnership with another performer. The Unit, a series of interconnected individual bivouacs, detach and separate to reveal a personal space, an item of clothing or a transport bag. The aluminium membrane of the Dome Dwelling, doting many identities, can be detached to reveal individual body-parts symbolised by arm, hood or leg appendages. The dancers form entire suits by developing relationships with each others, so the boundaries between body and architecture dissolve. Orta regards the wearer’s movements as those of a multifaceted mechanism, mirroring Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s theories on the mechanization of the body. In the theory of monadology, Leibniz describes the body not as a machine in itself, but as a mechanism made up of many machines, considering organs and body parts as devices in themselves. A model for expression in contemporary aesthetics, the concept of the monad is viewed in terms of folds of space, movement and time, like the interrelatedness of the body and the Modular Architecture sculptures by Lucy Orta.