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Choreographer Dean MossLaylah Ali

September 3, 2010

Dancer/choreographer Dean Moss discusses his collaboration with visual artist Laylah Ali, entitled figures on a field (2005). This behind-the-scenes look features preliminary rehearsals at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, as well as a preview performance at The Kitchen in New York City.

An artist working in both dance and video, Dean Moss’s recent projects use the irrational logic of the body to articulate personal, cultural, and socioeconomic forces that impact a perception of self and environment.

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Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Tom Hurwtiz & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Tom Bergin & Roger Phenix. Editor: Joaquin Perez. Artwork Courtesy: Laylah Ali & Dean Moss. Special Thanks: MASS MoCA & The Kitchen. © 2010 Art21, Inc.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Laylah Ali

Laylah Ali creates her small, figurative, gouache paintings on paper with such precision that it takes her many months to complete a single work. She meticulously plots out every aspect of her work in advance, from subject matter to choice of color and the brushes that she will use. Her paintings resemble comic-book serials, but they also contain stylistic references to hieroglyphics and American folk-art traditions. Ali often achieves a high level of emotional tension in her work as a result of juxtaposing brightly colored scenes with dark, often violent subject matter that speaks of political resistance, social relationships, and betrayal. Although Ali’s interest in representations of socio-political issues and current events drives her work, her finished paintings rarely reveal specific references.


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Jenny Holzer

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“For me, the medium that I’m dealing with is presence. And I spend a lot of time trying to get the presence of the performer to come out through the gesture; using the gesture as a translator, as a telephone, for presence.”

Dean Moss

Artist Laylah Ali discusses her work’s relationship to portraiture and the role of performance, symmetry, and violence in her paintings.

Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali

Artist Laylah Ali discusses her life’s relationship to her work, and how she creates the characters in her paintings.