On stage, dances exist for a moment in space — in downtown Columbus, they also sit stationary on a canvas.
At Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space, German artist Jean Kirsten is set to show how to artistically record movement not with technology, but with signs and symbols, or as it is also known: Labanotation.
The “Jean Kirsten: For Laban” exhibit is set to run Tuesday through Feb. 6 at the Urban Arts Space.
Nena Couch, head of Thompson Library special collections, said Kirsten’s work is an artistic exploration through visuals of the movement inspired by dance theorist Rudolf Laban.
“Laban developed a system (Labanotation) that helps us to do movement analysis, and that’s what Kirsten incorporates into his visual art,” Couch said.
Similar to sheet music, Laban’s notation turns dance choreography into a written transcription in such a way that it can be reproduced in the future.
Couch said Kirsten is intrigued with combining visual movement into painting, evoking the kinetics of the dancer.
“Labanotation is a conceptual way of thinking about dance to analyze, record and re-animate it,” Couch said. “You can actually do the movement that Martha Graham or George Balanchine did, which is pretty wonderful.”
Couch said that diagonal hash marks, heavy lines and dots are elements in Kirsten’s works that were inspired by the Labanotation symbols.
“Visually, I think (the exhibition) is going to be stunning,” Couch said. “Whether they understand the Labanotation or not, the visual impact will help to understand the movement through what you see there. Kirsten talks about themes of rhythm, shape and space, and I think that’s what you see in his work. You will get a bigger understanding of it through the work.”
Kelly McNicholas, communications coordinator for the Urban Arts Space, said Kirsten’s exhibit will open people’s eyes to the existence of Labanotation and the history of Rudolf Laban.
“I think (Laban) has given us a way of capturing that movement and writing it down so that it can be shared across time and space,” Couch said.
McNicholas said the Urban Arts Space is excited for not only what the exhibit will bring to OSU, but what Kirsten will personally bring as well.
He will be at the Urban Arts Space on Monday and Tuesday so OSU students and others who attend can have a chance to meet him.
McNicholas said this offers students a one-on-one experience with an international artist, and there is also a possibility Kirsten will speak to an OSU printmaking class.
The Urban Arts Space is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with hours extended to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Admission for the Kirsten exhibition is free.