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SiteWorks: San Francisco performance 1969-85

Community Crossroads (the farm), 1499 Portrero Avenue

Richard Alpert, A Circular Route (September 1979)

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The performance took place in an empty warehouse approximately 40’ wide, 80’ long and 25’ high. Upon entering the space, you saw concentric circles measuring 25’ in diameter composed of words written in heavy chalk on the floor. The circles were divided by chalk lines into groups of synonyms corresponding to different emotional states. Beyond the chalk circles, placed on the floor in the middle of the space, was a video monitor playing a sound track but no image. Directly behind the monitor was a dancer standing still, facing the front of the space. Behind the dancer against the back wall of the building was a stairwell railing covered with white paper.

The sound that was coming from the monitor was made by striking the spokes of a spinning bicycle wheel with a wooden stick, producing at first distinct and individual notes, and as the speed of the wheel increased, gradually giving way to a blended rhythmic tone over a nine minute period. When the sound stopped, the image of a rapidly spinning bicycle wheel came on the monitor and the dancer began to spin. The shadow of a spinning bicycle wheel was projected onto the white paper from inside the stairwell, and the sound of the wheel was heard then coming from the back of the building.

As the spinning dancer slowed, she went from upright to a tucked and still position on the floor, the shadow on the paper wound down to a halt, and the sound from the wheel got slower until it ceased. As the spinning image on the video monitor slowed and finally stopped, it became evident that there was writing on the rim of the wheel, eventually becoming readable: “Emotions move from one feeling to the next in a circumferential manner. Eventually they come full circle. Each time around they are slightly different, changed by experience and circumstances.” (Alpert 1979)

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