The Fabric Workshop and Museum is pleased to present Warp Trance, a new project by Senga Nengudi on view at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts' Morris Gallery. Nengudi, an artist-in-residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), collaborated with FWM to create an installation that employs a 3-channel video projection of rhythmic sounds and images derived from industrial weaving mills to evoke ritual and trance. Senga Nengudi: Warp Trance opens on Friday, 8 June with an artist lecture at 6 p.m. and a reception from 5:30–8 p.m. The exhibition is on view through 26 August 2007 at the Pennsylvania Academy.
Nengudi is best known for her performance, installation, and sculptural work involving movement and the body. During her residency at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Nengudi became interested in Pennsylvania's, and FWM's, rich history with textile production. She visited several local textile mills including MTL, in Jessup, PA, and Langhorne Carpet in Penndel, PA, as well as Scalamandre in Long Island City, New York, and was fascinated by the repetitive motion and sounds of the mills. During these visits, with the generous cooperation of the mills, Nengudi collected video footage and sound recordings as well as hundreds of Jacquard punch cards. She then asked the composer Butch Morris to take the audio recordings from the textile mills and turn the ambient sounds into a composition to accompany the video projections. The resulting installation, Warp Trance, leads the viewer into an almost trancelike state through repetitive motion and audio and visual rhythm.
Warp Trance is Nengudi's first work involving video. She has primarily been drawn to discarded, everyday materials with farther reaching associations than the viewer might initially assume. The Jacquard punch card panels onto which the video footage is projected in Warp Trance fit perfectly into this category. As well as being a revolutionary step in textile production, the Jacquard loom was also the first machine that used punch cards to control a sequence of operations. Consequently, the cards are considered the first important step in the history of computing hardware as well as a key conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming.
Nengudi's Warp Trance touches on the history of technology, ritual dance, contemporary music, and the politics of labor, but, for the artist, it's really about the interaction between the viewer and the piece. Nengudi wants the work to encourage us to move and dance removing us from the everyday through Warp Trance's mesmerizing rhythms and visual patterns.
Pennsylvania Academy Morris Gallery, Historic Landmark Building
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
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