The Philadelphia Inquirer: An artist forces us to imagine a world without images

An artist forces us to imagine a world without images

By Meredith Sellers for The Philadelphia Inquirer

June 14, 2023

When one enters Carolyn Lazard’s show, “Long Take” at ICA Philadelphia, they stand in a dark, mostly empty room. Sounds of scuffling, shifting, and breathing come from speakers hung on all sides; voices directing and describing a series of actions fill the space.

Four benches, generously backed and cushioned, are placed around the room.

There are three monitors in the middle; each playing a different video channel, but there are no images to be seen. Instead, each screen shows a stream of captions.

One, voiced by Lazard, gives the directions to a dance score (start slow, adjust speed, build sequence, breakup, rest). Next to it, another monitor silently describes the noises being heard (breath, sweep, creak, thud), and the last, voiced by poet Joselia Rebekah Hughes, exactingly enunciates a visual description of the movements of a dancer whom we can hear, but not see. Visual descriptions make experiences accessible for anyone who is blind or has low vision; they give context, and allow people access to visuals most of us take for granted.

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