Reflections on FieldWork by Nancy Nowacek
It’s Happening! Celebrating 50 Years of Public Art in NYC Parks, took place in Central Park on October 21st. Included among the more than 100 artworks, performances, and workshops was FieldWork. FieldWork is a choreographed performance by artist Nancy Nowacek, a Freshkills Park Field R/D artist, in collaboration with Morgan Hille-Refakis.
Nowacek defines her work as “reinstating the body’s relevance as functioning object, tool, channel, and ultimately site of imagination.” This is evident in FieldWork and builds upon previous works such as Action Coding, in which the body is used to “type” out computer code through specific movements.
FieldWork focuses on the interface of the body and the natural world during research. Researchers examine and explore the way that the various pieces of the natural world work and interact together through sampling, observations, and taking measurements. In the way that researchers convert all of these measurements and data into comprehensible ideas, FieldWork converts the movements of the researchers into a series of choreographed movements that represent the physical intimacy between the researcher the natural world during the research. It accomplishes this by mimicking the movements of the field research in a way that reflects both the actions of the researcher and their interactions with their equipment and the natural world.
As a researcher I was struck by how closely the choreographed movements reflected the movements of actual field research. I was able to know what they were sampling, or doing, simply by watching the movements of the performers. It was surprising to me that my own perception of the movements was so easily filled in with the purposes of the scientific work, while for the dancers their perceptions of the movements were more directly tied to the movements themselves. Many of the passersby interacted with the performers and the props as they passed through the performance, drawn in by the movements of the performers perhaps for completely different reasons.
FieldWork will be developed further and will be performed again, at Freshkills Park, among other venues. To stay up to date on FieldWork and other projects at Freshkills Park join the newsletter.
Written by Terrance Caviness, Freshkills Park Programming Associate.