Soft is Fast: Simone Forti in the 1960s and After by Meredith Morse (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016)

Erin Brannigan


Simone Forti’s contributions to the major aesthetic shifts cranking out of mid 20th-century America have gone unacknowledged for too long, which makes Meredith Morse’s monograph on Forti both timely and overdue. This delay evidences the gender and disciplinary inequities that have obfuscated the actual provenance of key experiments of the period and the true nature of their innovations. The recuperation of Forti’s work, and its intervention into perceived genealogies of current intermedial, conceptual, minimalist, processual and performative tendencies in the post-disciplinary contemporary arts, finds a very worthy champion in Morse. The project is particularly timely as the dance-visual arts liaison of the past 10 years or so appears to be peaking, and Forti’s importance as a 20th century precedent for this field of activity has become increasingly apparent. Beginning in the early 2000s, and picking up steam over the last 15 years, attention to Forti and her lineage via choreographer Anna Halprin and dance pedagogue Margaret D’Houbler, has catalyzed a reconsideration of the role of dance and choreography—both in its disciplinary and interdisciplinary conditions—in this milieu. This work asserts the art form amongst other key players such as the new music and visual arts traditions emerging from John Cage and Marcel Duchamp.

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