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  • Movement Engineer
  • Jon Kinzel (bio)

Drawing has informed many of my intimate and large-scale installations at venues such as The Invisible Dog, The Kitchen, The Chocolate Factory, Dance Theater Workshop, Dixon Place, Performance Space 122, La MaMa, Menagerie de Verre, Danspace Project, and The Knitting Factory. This has involved constructing and dismantling murals, text, and floating partitions during performance—connecting dance and object-making within the temporal realm. I have maintained a fluid interdisciplinary practice for decades.

The realities of showing my work in the 1990s in performance spaces throughout downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn required adaptability. Theatres, galleries, lofts, and clubs as performance venues were varied and usually carved out of existing architecture. The task of acclimating to different spatial proportions, audience positions, and sonic environments became a necessary and ultimately enjoyable part of my creative process. The effect this had on the many solos I created during this period was to treat each piece as a temporary installation. I used iconography and spatial demarcations—graphic, three-dimensional markmaking and line-drawing executed during performance—to situate myself and the audience within a mutable physical and pictorial terrain. Together, we experienced a given venue in transformation. I incorporated this way of working into two evening-length solos, Tape Solos (1995) and Who Has A Bill? (1998), made in collaboration with visual artist Bob Ajar. I continued to return to this framework in later years in a duet, Quirk-Ease (2007), and an ensemble piece, Responsible Ballet and What We Need Is a Bench to Put Books On (2010). All of these dances demonstrate my tactile, gestural, and sculptural way of manipulating materials.

My desire to work with my hands has kept me turning to an almost obsessive habit of sketching in journals. More specifically, when I am on the subway, I have given myself the task of using the time in-between subway stations (42nd to 59th Streets, 145th to 125th Streets) to make line drawings. I begin to draw as the subway doors close and finish when they reopen at the next stop. Importantly, I want the drawings to appear complete. This involves noting the distances [End Page 66] between each station, and executing graphic marks in an accelerated manner. I've produced hundreds of drawings while commuting. Each of them possesses tube, maze, filigree, ribbon, or belt-like characteristics, depending on how one perceives them.

To accomplish the idea of making a complete drawing within a short span of time, I devised and adhered to a set of constraints: weave curved and straight lines, compose with an awareness of the paper's edge, initiate and finalize only while in transit, and utilize an element of time that I am not in control of. Although the drawings sometimes look like symbolic representations of my commute—complex pathways associated with urban railways and tunnels—that is not my intention. Rather, as an evolving exercise, the ability to re-draw visual forms that are roughly similar allows me to work in inexhaustible sequences with no arrival point, without finality. As a series, these subway drawings, for me, reflect the transitional nature of being an aging dancer whose body is an instrument in flux. [End Page 67]

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Untitled drawings that stem from my process of working while in transit.

Photos: Courtesy Erica Freudenstein.

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Double-sided object I made to perform with in a memorial for Trisha Brown held at Danspace Project in 2017.

Photos: Courtesy Eric Freudenstein.

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At Night (2017), collaborative duet by Jon Kinzel and Jodi Melnick. The deliberate use of multiple contours in my drawings informs how bodies can map irregular shaped boulders/a sea wall. The straightness of a shin, pliable palms, and supple curves of a spine—human forms—can resist or give in to stone, an impenetrable yet faceted surface.

Photo: Courtesy Alex John Beck.

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At Night (2017) is a duet Jodi Melnick and I made for Beach Sessions Dance Series, Rockaway Beach, Queens. Enlarging my "subway drawings" inspired me to create a trailing paper headdress for At...


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pp. 66-71
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