For nearly 50 years, artist Channa Horwitz has worked primarily with drawings, creating a large body of works on paper called Sonakinatography (1968 – 2004). The works reinterpret the traditional minimalist grid with a sensual twist, featuring meticulous hand drawings of complex geometric patterns with alternating colors and symbols on graph-ruled Mylar. Her drawings combine an apparent rigidity and structural logic with an element of chance suggested by imperfections, mistakes, and corrections that the artist leaves visible on the paper. Although visually close to Op Art, Horwitz’s work is much closer to Conceptual Art and works by colleagues Sol Lewitt or Mel Bochner.
Throughout the years, Horwitz has used her drawings to create her own unique language, employing rules and variables based on the numeric chain from 0 to 8 and alternating colorful lines and spaces in an attempt to depict rhythm and motion. Reading like elegant music scores, the drawings function as open scripts for possible music or dance interpretations. Horwitz often invited other artists to interpret her scores in their own performances, underlining once more how the logic of her composition sets one free.
For the High Line, Horwitz restaged Poem/Opera, The Divided Person, a work that was originally performed in Bologna, Italy in 1978. Based on Sonakinatography Composition III, the performance features eight actors, each holding a 25-foot-long script that contains words describing the oppositional qualities of a person: inner/outer, young/old, happy/sad, dreamer/realist. Following the reckless beat of a metronome, all of the actors read his or her script at the same time, creating an ordered cacophony that highlights the infinite combinations between order and chance and between the written word and movement in time.
Photos by Liz Ligon.