Film by Eric Minh Swenson.
49 Days: Women Who Count unites Los Angeles based artist DONI SILVER SIMONS and noted choreographer DONNA STERNBERG, founder of DONNA STERNBERG & DANCERS. Silver Simons and Sternberg have created an evocative and transformative experience that delves deeply into the human condition. Their project incorporates thirty-nine female performers, a forty-nine-channel soundscape, a visual installation documenting the creation of the work, and a post-performance discussion by the artists.
Counting is universal. Since our earliest ancestors scratched marks onto walls, we have marked, celebrated, and lamented the flow of time. We mark calendars, we count days and hours in rituals, we play counting games as children and spend much of our lives striving to achieve accomplishments that “count.” We have an innate desire to be counted and to be remembered.
In 49 Days: Women Who Count, women serve as “keepers of time.” One perceives their voices in choreographed rhythm, woven into an indistinguishable soundscape. Building upon the voices are the actions of the performers. Each developed her own movements and inspired choreography at the direction of Donna Sternberg and in response to Doni Silver Simons’ soundscape. The movements build as sound fills the space. Three large-scale works by Doni Silver Simons serve as the visual landscape of the sounds and gestures that fill Arena 1. Doni’s marks reinforce the dancers’ gestures – at once bold and soft, timid and assured, and reflecting repetition. Within the space are seven benches, each representing a unit of time. They literally hold the dancers and figuratively become repositories of memory.
In secondary galleries, documentary evidence of the evolution of 49 Days: Women Who Count are displayed. One room contains works by Doni Silver Simons that inspired this collaboration. These were created during a ritualistic annual forty-nine day period of spiritual significance. The marking of each day inspired Silver Simons to add an auditory dimension to the project. The second space contains documents that show the evolution of this performance. Included are sketches by Silver Simons, diagrams and notes from Sternberg, sound compressions from Riley Smith, photographs by Mara Zaslove and video of rehearsals by Chris Bradford. Projects, notes, and journals kept by the performers are on display, as well as a map of the zip codes of the participants which documents the community outreach.
49 Days is far more than an act of counting. It is the summation of diverse responses to the creation of memory, captured in sight, sound, and movement. Filtered through a uniquely feminine lens, the exhibition documents our need to count, to mark, and to remember.
For more info on Eric Minh Swenson visit his website at thuvanarts.com. His art films can be seen at thuvanarts.com/take1
Eric Minh Swenson also covers the international art scene and his writings and photo essays can be seen at Huffington Post Arts : m.huffpost.com/us/author/eric-minh-swenson/