Sharon Lockhart discovered the work of Israeli artist, choreographer and dance theorist Noa Eshkol not long after Eshkol died in 2007 — a circumstance that lends a peculiar slant to the collaboration that was subsequently undertaken between them, and that is the basis for their dual exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The collaboration, strictly speaking, was between Lockhart, an L.A.-based photographer and filmmaker, and Eshkol's legacy, which is to say her dancers and the system she is known for developing, Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation. (Established in collaboration with architect Avraham Wachman in the mid-1950s, the system uses numbers and symbols to chart spatial relationships between parts of the body.) Acting as artist, documentarian, archivist and curator almost simultaneously, Lockhart filmed the dancers performing Eshkol's meticulous compositions, gathered and photographed archival materials related to EWMN, and assembled a selection of Eshkol's visual works — tapestries — for inclusion in the exhibition.
The result is a sensitive portrait of a formidable artist, one all but unknown outside her home country, as seen through the eyes of another artist of a different discipline, several generations and thousands of miles removed. The affinities are subtle but striking. Both favor a clear and direct aesthetic. Both are fascinated by the relationship between geometry and the body, formalism and the human environment. Lockhart's film of Eshkol's dances, a five-channel installation that weaves through several adjacent rooms, presents the dancers full size and at ground level, moving to the rhythm of a resounding metronome, such that they seem to mingle with the museum visitors — an approach that underscores the fundamentally humanistic nature of both artists' motivations.