Liz Lerman, 2011 Josep Lluis Sert Practitioner in the Arts, choreographed and stagged Healing Wars: Early Explorations with odd and urgent action occupying five floors of the Carpenter Center, this early stage of development is an investigation of the impact of war on medicine, as seen through the experiences and encounters of an American Civil War nurse and a contemporary military surgeon in Iraq.
The project translates from idea to body to idea again visceral inquiries into the life-or-death question of failure for soldiers and healers; how we anesthetize patients with ether, chloroform, opium, or hope; innovations in medicine during the crisis of war; reflections of the self and our view of history through our relationship to diseased, wounded, dying, and surviving warriors; and imagery of battlefield spirits gathering souls as they join the Daughters of Charity at Gettysburg. The media design includes old movies, animation, and graphics and a layered environmental soundscape.
Lerman is seeking fresh and wily solutions to the ongoing tension between abstraction and realism, emotion and ideas, information and feeling while continuing to develop a deeper palette of powerful movement. The project is assisted by clinicians, soldiers, medial historians, and doctors who want to talk and think and help make sense of these large events.
The stories are everywhere.
Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker. Described by the Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art,” her dance/theater works have been seen throughout the United States and abroad. Her aesthetic approach spans the range from abstract to personal to political, while her working process emphasizes research, translation between artistic media, and intensive collaboration with dancers, communities, and thinkers from diverse disciplines. Liz was the recipient of a 2002 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship. Her work has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, BalletMet, the Kennedy Center, and Harvard Law School, among others. Her 2010 work, The Matter of Origins, examined the question of beginnings, from CERN’s LHC to Genesis, through dance, media and innovative formats for conversation. In 1976 Liz founded the Dance Exchange, a dance company whose members span six decades; recently she left the company to pursue new partnerships including teaching at Harvard University and working with Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London). Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer, her new collection of essays, was published in early 2011 by Wesleyan University Press. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Milwaukee, Liz attended Bennington College and Brandeis University, received her BA in dance from the University of Maryland, and an MA in dance from George Washington University.
Josep Lluis Sert Practitioner in the Arts
The Josep Lluis Sert Practitioner is an annual invitation to a distinguished artist to spend several days in residence at the Carpenter Center, engaged with students and other members of the academic community in a variety of possible activities. Founded in 1986 the program is supported by a generous gift of the late Robert Gardner, former director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, director of the Film Study Center, and chair of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. The residency includes both close engagement with a small group of students (acting in a collaborative way) and also some occasion open to a larger invited group of faculty, students, and the general public. This larger occasion includes a lecture-demonstration, talk, or rehearsal-performance, depending on both the art and practices involved, and the wishes of the Practitioner.