The Walker Art Center announced the acquisition of two interdisciplinary artworks, the installation “STAGED: Slugs' Saloon” by jazz pianist Jason Moran and the live installation “STAGING: solo” by the Cypriot choreographer Maria Hassabi.
Commissioned by the Walker, Moran and Hassabi's works have been presented across the museum's galleries, stage and building spaces as part of the ongoing three-and-a-half-year Interdisciplinary Initiative. The acquisitions mark the first works by Moran and Hassabi to enter a museum's permanent collection.
“These two acquisitions represent a tremendously exciting step for the Walker and its collection, one which recognizes how leading artists today are proactively blurring the lines between visual and performing arts; between object, body and sound; and between the past and the future," said Philip Bither, McGuire director and senior curator for Performing Arts. "Jason Moran and Maria Hassabi are two of the leading innovators in their respective fields of jazz and dance, expanding and reimagining how those disciplines might live in our times and the times ahead,” Moran's installation, which was exhibited at the Walker as part of the artist's 2018 solo exhibition, pays homage to the iconic New York jazz club, Slugs' Saloon (1964-1972). Complete with instruments, furniture, a jukebox and a stage, it reimagines the club's interior to memorialize a lost cultural space.
Speaking of the “STAGED” series, Moran remarked, "considering America's desire to raze cultural landmarks, why not fabricate those spaces as well. Architecture continues to inform music, from the vast ballroom to the tiny corner stage."
“STAGED: Slugs' Saloon” is a discreet installation that doubles as a stage for concerts, with musicians invited to perform at the artist's discretion during his lifetime, and afterwards according to determined guidelines. At the opening of Moran's recent exhibition at the Walker, the artist inaugurated the installation with a performance by Moran and legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who frequently performed at the original Slugs.
Since the early 2000s, Hassabi has developed a distinct choreographic practice involved with the relation of the body to the image, defined by sculptural physicality and extended duration. A live installation performed by a single dancer, “STAGING: solo” unfolds as a progression of highly formal choreographies, composed of stillness and decelerated movements in space. Oscillating between dance and sculpture, subject and object, live body and still image, the work tests conventional forms of viewership. In addition to the live dance, Hassabi also conceived of archival and sculptural iterations of the work, which can be exhibited independently of the dance. “STAGING: solo” is the third live work to enter the Walker's permanent collection, following acquisitions of work by Tino Sehgal and Ralph Lemon.