January 12, 2017 - Vleeshal - Noa Eshkol: I Look at the Moon and Think about My Daughter-in-Law
January 12, 2017


Photo: T. Brauner, c. 1954–56. Courtesy The Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation. Design: Robert Milne, Werkplaats Typografie.

Noa Eshkol
I Look at the Moon and Think about My Daughter-in-Law
January 21–March 19, 2017


January 21–March 19

Vleeshal Markt
Markt 1, 4331 KG
Middelburg, The Netherlands

Opening with performances by The Noa Eshkol Chamber Group: January 21, 5pm
Workshops with The Noa Eshkol Chamber Group: January 22, 11am & 2pm

February 4–March 19

Hazenstraat 28, 1016 SR
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Member’s preview & walk-though: February 3, 5pm
Film screening: February 4, 4pm

Vleeshal, Middelburg and Kunstverein, Amsterdam are excited to announce their joint exhibition I Look at the Moon and Think about My Daughter-in-Law, a solo show presented  in two parts on the work and thinking of contemporary dancer, choreographer, carpet maker and theorist Noa Eshkol (Israel, 1924–2007).

How do we define one movement from the next, and how do we preserve them in time, in order to redo them one after the other? In the 1950s, Noa Eshkol, together with architect Avraham Wachman, developed a notational system for movement, using a combination of symbols and numbers to define the motion of any limb around its joint. The Eshkol Wachman Movement Notation (EWMN) system, named after its developers, was born out of a social practice and way of life, as much as it was a visual means of representing (human) motion. The system offers a way of looking at the movements of the body and organizing them in relatively simple categories, making it possible to notate and in turn reactivate motion, precisely and mathematically, at a later time. For instance, when one looks closely at a hand turning a doorknob a “rotary movement” is observed. This movement is very different from the motion one witnesses in a jumping jack, considered a “plane movement," itself unlike the “conical movement” one sees in a waist circling inside a hula-hoop.

Eshkol developed various choreographies with the aid of the EWMN system for over 40 years. Her choreographies are explicitly unadorned and sparse, rejecting musical accompaniment or elaborate, colorful costuming. In nearly all of her compositions however a communitarian dance form, as a process of interaction among multiple bodies in space prevails. Certain choreographies, such as her "suite" series, give glimpses into plant and animal behavior, such as the mating rituals of jackals. These works in turn reflect the ways in which the EWMN system is not only limited to dance, but can be used as a tool to observe our own manners and conduct in relation to our surroundings, and can even be applied to diverse areas such as sign language and behavioural studies.

When a member of the Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group was called to serve in the military during The Yom Kippur War (1973), Eshkol stopped dancing, and began to make carpets. Eshkol continued this practice for many years, constructing hundreds of carpets from found and donated pieces of fabric—many of them remnants of uniforms. Movement and parts of the (absent) body also appear in these carpets—signalling another form in which the EWMN system is translated—sewn together by Eshkol and her dancers. A selection of 14 carpets will be on display at Vleeshal Markt, showing a wide range in time and style, from the very first, abstract carpet, appropriately entitled The First Carpet (1973) to the more recent Sunset by the Lake (1995). During the opening on January 21 the Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group (Mor Bashan, Noga Goral, Rachel Nul-Kahana, Ruti Sela, Dror Shoval) will perform a selection from Eshkol’s “suites.” On January 22 members of the group will also give two workshops, introducing participants to the basic principles of the EWMN system. Both events are open to the public and free of charge. For more information on the workshops please email office [​at​] vleeshal.nl.

The second part of I Look at the Moon and Think about My Daughter-in-Law will open at Kunstverein, Amsterdam on Saturday, February 4. There, the first copy of the EWMN system will be on view, alongside a generous selection from the historic archives (curated by Maya Pasternak) and three films—early recordings of Noa and her dancers making use of the EWMN system—that have never been screened before outside of Israel. The films will be screened on the window of Kunstverein’s storefront in the heart of the Jordaan, enabling both viewers inside and outside the space to be absorbed by the hypnotizing dances.

Vleeshal wishes to thank the City of Middelburg and the Mondriaan Fund.

Kunstverein wishes to thank its (Gold) members, Stadsdeel Zuid, and Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst.

Both wish to thank The Embassy of Israel in The Netherlands for their support of this exhibition.

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I Look at the Moon and Think about My Daughter-in-Law
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