Form and formlessness at 2739 Edwin

Arts / Article

Marcelyn Bennett-Carpenter’s Turn (one of two installations on view in Hamtramck this month) closed last Saturday night. To mark the occasion, there was an improvisational dance and music performance inside 2739 Edwin, the gallery space that housed the installation (composed of hundreds of translucent, tensile bands strung from floor to ceiling).

James Cornish, Marko Novachcoff, Piotr Michalowski and Christopher Skebo played experimental jazz. Low, slow and unstructured, it drifted darkly into the corners of the room, then took sudden, precise shape. At one point, the musicians got up and moved through the installation, playing their instruments along the way. Later, they played the installation itself, putting their lips to the bands and pressing air through their thumbs and mouths.

Six dancers moved through the installation freely, toying with the bands like kittens with yarn, tumbling to the floor, rushing past nearby audience members, variously pulling, pushing, supporting and ignoring each other. It was fascinating to watch them move, knowing that the dance was being improvised in front of us, and that each dancer was relying on the others to understand and, in many cases, respond to and build upon her movements.

There was a sense of tension between the precise, ordered quality of Bennett-Carpenter’s installation and the chaos of the music and movement. In fact, the dancers all but destroyed the installation as they moved through the space, tangling and snapping the bands with their bodies, letting them fall to the floor, even gathering them and offering them to members of the audience. But as precise as the installation was, it was also by its nature elastic, and it was this inherent flexibility that the free-form performances responded to, emphasized and celebrated.

The other installation on view in Hamtramck this month, Scott Hocking’s Tartarus, closes this Saturday, April 30 at 9:00 p.m. at the Public Pool Artspace. There will be music picked by artist George Rahme, a reading by Dan Dimaggio, and a performance by Tzarinas of the Plane, who allegedly dress as trash and writhe on the floor. Visit for more information.