felt room plunges viewers into an open, and often completely dark stage, with no seating and with the proximity of the dancers heard and felt as much as seen. One’s somatic awareness gets switched on. The viewer can’t lose their body to the theater’s safe seats. felt room, an immersive three-hour performance installation, is designed to conjure imagination and speculation. In the darkness, viewers are offered an escape from a world of constant illumination in which to practice other ways of knowing. Like human animals moving in the night, the dance slowly reveals itself.

Through its often visual absence, punctuated by occasional flashes of light and deeply saturated color, the dance becomes heightened in our imaginations. There are few handles in the dark or ways to mark time. In the intimacy created by darkness, audience and performer are both hidden and vulnerable. Together we share fluid time, a space for napping, lucid dreaming, visioning, and collective imagining. The work creates a space of ambiguity, an invitation for both performers and audience to take responsibility for our actions. Each of our choices of where to sit and where to look may have a profound consequence for everyone in the space. Each choice is at once personal and compositional.

“BodyCartography Project’s ‘Felt Room’ flickers with substance and light…” Star Tribune

Read more press for felt room

“From darkness to dimness to light – the “felt room” was a revelation. It’s rare to confront your own physical and emotional hesitancies while watching a performance. It felt good to feel the heart pump a bit when confronted with uncertainty.” Caroline Palmer. Read the full review here.

“Philosopher Alva Noë wrote that experience is not something we have—it is something we do. For the BodyCartography Project this is not an abstract philosophical concept but an operational principle.” Boris Oicherman, Mapping (your) body reflection on the felt room, WAM website

felt room began for me as an audience member like this: Barefoot. Entrance into complete darkness. “Do you want to hold hands so we don’t lose each other?” “Yes. Do you want to slowly walk forward?” Breathing sounds. Crackles and hisses like inside a body in creation. Dimly lit ensemble of dancers whose shapes merge, morph, split. Movement comes to rest, and apparent stillness generates agitation. Like the beginning of the universe, bursting to life. Unstoppable becoming. Like the pre-history of our human bodies, cells unfolding patterns before mind. A kind of holiness that my atheist self believes in.” Asher Edes, audience

“Stretching between amazement, fear, and tenderness Bieringa’s piece is a dream of life at its most instinctual.” 

artist and audience member Sean Smuda

“And then suddenly in a burst of clarity I could see! The room and everyone in it now completely visible.

I could hear a heartbeat. Tears came to my eyes as I was awash in the feeling of being a human.”

Bernie Jungle, audience feedback from the Headlands Center for the Art.

“It was the one space I have been where my mind simply decided this was all there was.

It played with the idea that there was nothing beyond the room. Outside that curtain there was nothing. No beings. No ideas or systems. No other way of life. No world. Just: felt room.” 

An excerpt from Abiel Locke’s review from the Performance Arcade. Read the full review here 

“My skin grows antennae.”

An excerpt from Framing Feeling: BodyCartography Triptych by Hope Mohr for Openspace. Read the full review here

“Darkness ameliorates as a walled garden… Figures erupt from foliage, momentarily taking the form of epics.”

an excerpt from Notebook – BodyCartography by James Fleming for Openspace.Read full review here

“The metamorphosis of the pile of white clothing punctuated the passing time. Beginning in one corner, it morphed and grew around the women. It scattered across the room, draped itself over us, hemmed us in, became our pillows, and connected us. The emotional and timeless hours drew to a close as each individual found themselves joining the dancers in their task of turning the pile into a web spanning from wall to wall. Methodically and yet without conscious goals, we passed shirts onto others and lengthened the strands until we ducked and wove in and out of our own piece of art.” 

An excerpt from Abiel Locke’s review from the Performance Arcade. Read the full review here 

Exhibition

  • Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, July 11-15, 2018
  • SFMOMA in connection with Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules exhibit March 15-18 with Sarah Baumert, Arwen Wilder, Emma Barber, Julie Tolentino, Maurya Kerr, Anna Martine Whitehead & Olive Bieringa 
  • The Performance Arcade, Wellington, New Zealand,  March 1-4 with performers Emma Barber, Rosie Tapsell, Josie Archer, Vicky Kapo, & Olive Bieringa
  • The White Page Gallery, Minneapolis, June 29-30, 2017
  • Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College, Minnesota, January 13- February 23, 2017. Curator Sandra Teitge gave a talk “On Dance Constructions, Plastic, and Public Collections – female minds & bodies in museums”

Residencies

  • Atamira Dance Company, Corbyn’s Estate, Auckland, February 2018
  • Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College, Minnesota, 2017
  • Headlands Center for the Arts, May 2016

Weisman Art Museum performers: Maurya Kerr, Sarah Baumert, Arwen Wilder, Anna Marie Shogren and Emma Barber

San Francisco performers: Maurya Kerr, Julie Tolentino, Anna Martine Whitehead, Sarah Baumert, Arwen Wilder, Olive Bieringa and Emma Barber

New Zealand performers: Josie Archer, Rosie Tapsell, Vicky Kapo, Olive Bieringa and Emma Barber

White Page, Minneapolis performers: Anna Marie Shogren, Sarah Baumert, Arwen Wilder, Emma Barber and Olive Bieringa with sound by Justin Jones and light by Mike Wangen.

Movement developed in collaboration with Rebecca Haseltine, Kevin Dockery, Otto Ramstad, Utam Moses, Kosta Bogoievski, Josie Archer, Anna Marie Shogren, Sarah Baumert, Arwen Wilder, Emma Barber, and Carleton College dancers Thu Nguyen, Annie Richardson, Kathryn Peneyra, Hettie Stern, Alison Ball, and Erin Arntson

Special thanks to Otto Ramstad, Judith Howard, Laurel Bradley, Teresa Lenzen, Christina Chang, Wu Chen, Wes Winship, and Piotr Szyhalski.

Support for this project comes from Carleton College, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and Alumni New Works grant and residency from the Headlands Center for the Arts, an Arts Activity Grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Arts Council, Atamira Dance Company and our donors. 

felt room trailer from the White Page, Minneapolis

 

felt room excerpts from San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, March 2018

felt room technical information and full length video links