Visual artist Madeline Hollander collaborates with Dance students in her first solo exhibition in Texas

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

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A projected screen shows a dancer moving through old firehoses on the art gallery floor.

 In this projected footage seen through the Visual Art Center's south windows, sophomore Dance student Camille Wiltz moves through Madeline Hollander: Score for 7 Solos. Photo by Sandy Carson.

by Cami Yates

In Score for 7 Solos, as presented by the Visual Arts Center, Los Angeles-based artist Madeline Hollander revisited a project previously realized in 2017 articulating the days of the week through a color system of her devising. In this first solo exhibition in Texas, Hollander positioned fire hoses to represent choreographic scores corresponding to each day of the week.

Hollander’s 2017 performance, Fire Hose Notation, incorporated retired fire hoses, reminders of environmental catastrophes, such as wildfires, we witness locally and globally on an increasingly regular basis.

The hoses assumed a new function in Score for 7 Solos as a site-responsive choreographic score for dancers selected from the Department of Theater and Dance to interpret.

“The actual composition in the room was really inspired by this last year’s feeling of losing a sense of time and structure of time,” Hollander said. “Days of the week, which used to have very explicit and clear meanings, and feelings like weekends versus weekdays—the flow of the week kind of disintegrated, and days started to blur into each other.”

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Firehoses are arranged in rows on an art gallery floor.

Madeline Hollander: Score for 7 Solos, installation view, Visual Arts Center, The University of Texas at Austin, January 30 – March 27, 2021. Photo: Sandy Carson.

Working with the Department of Theatre and Dance, Hollander invited a group of seven dance students to respond to these repurposed objects through improvisational movements and asked each dancer to interpret each sequence, creating a solo representing each day of the week.

Jarell Howard Rochelle, a graduate student in Dance, describes the installation as a beautiful frame for universal language in movement.

“Upon taking on the project, I was utterly amazed by how the work began to dance with me,” Rochelle said. “It was surreal, and it gave me sequencing of steps through the intricate patterns of the hoses and [framed watercolors] featured on the wall.”

The dancers were given freedom to create their own choreography with only one goal: to find continuity in the dialogue they would all share in Hollander’s work. Each dancer spoke with Hollander individually to get a sense of her vision and created their own solos.

Venese Alcantar, a senior Dance student, said the dancers only had one real rehearsal before they filmed the next day. Their "rehearsals" were self-informed—they authored their solo and Hollander only offered the hose score.

“The sensations felt ripe, and I thought I would cling to whatever appeared that day in rehearsal, but upon filming, new conversational tones were arising, so I made room for spontaneity. It felt raw.”

Ariel René Jackson (M.F.A., Studio Art, 2019) filmed the performances, saying that Hollander did a good job of bringing in different people with different styles to complete this piece.

“I was really taken by how they allow themselves to appear to trip over themselves and then that turned into a movement,” Jackson said. “I felt like they really embodied, in a sense, the landscape, but it was also really cool to see some people jump over and do a handstand and do all of these movements while also being aware of what's happening beneath them.”

Camille Wiltz, a sophomore Dance student, expressed how freeing this project was for her since COVID-19 had greatly limited her space to dance.

“I went into the space, and it was beautiful, with natural lighting,” Wiltz said. “I set up a speaker, and nobody bothered me. I had the space for an hour to just kind of really dissect and absorb what it was.”

Hollander’s hope is that anyone who is able to see the exhibition will also walk through the hoses and come up with their own physical interpretation.

“It's not just made for dance—it’s made for any type of movement, and anyone should feel it. It should be an invitation to try it out yourself,” Hollander said.

The dancers’ performances for Score for 7 Solos will be projected in the window overlooking the VAC's south lawn every evening Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. The exhibition runs through March 27.

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Projection through a gallery window shows dancers moving through a row of firehoses.

Madeline Hollander: Score for 7 Solos, installation view, Visual Arts Center, The University of Texas at Austin, January 30 – March 27, 2021. Photo: Sandy Carson.

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