White Cube Mason’s Yard presents This Earth, This Passage, a selection of artworks by Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) which collectively reflect the artist’s engagement with material, performance and notions of place.
The exhibition takes its title from a 1962 sculpture: a bronze ring cast from clay impressed by Noguchi’s body as he walked over the yielding surface. Preserving physical imprints in its form, the work invokes a central tenet of Noguchi’s practice: to expand human consciousness through observable experience and, in turn, enhance one’s sense of belonging.
Extending Noguchi’s understanding of the body as a conduit for experience, This Earth, This Passage brings together work from the 1920s to the 1980s in varied materials: bronze, hot-dipped galvanized steel, basalt and granite. The diversity of materials attests to the interdisciplinary nature of the artist’s practice, informed by his itinerant travels and belief that art is in a “constant process of becoming.”
Making explicit the figurative and performative facets of his practice, over three decades Noguchi created more than twenty set designs for the choreographer Martha Graham (1894–1991), a leader in mid-20th century modernism. Noguchi’s sculptural scenography serves as a setting for Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946)—a performance musing on rebirth, relationality, and the process of life itself.
Both the mise-en-scène for Graham’s choreography and Noguchi’s work in stone and metal constitute psycho-geographic sites in which selfhood, place, and materiality cohere.