TABLE OF CONTENTS

passages

ROBERT MORRIS

Robert Morris watches as his work is installed at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 6, 1970. Photo: David Gahr/Getty.

DEAR BOB,

I’m writing at my desk where, leaned against the wall, is one of your large “Blind Time” drawings on white paper. Left hand, then right hand with time gap, the application of graphite-covered hands very much alive. This is the same desk from which I’ve received and responded to your emails for the past five years, ever since you were asked to write something about me for the Thinking with the Body catalogue. Our emails, at first related to your task, eventually evolved into a correspondence. Now I’ve been asked to write something in remembrance of you. 

You once told me that you felt every cell in your body was at war with itself. You loved Goya’s dark last paintings in the Prado. I love your book Telegram: The Rationed Years, especially the section about you ten years old and the boiler room, the spaces and everything in it and about it charged with dark suggestions. “I practiced feeling exiled imagining I had been removed to an unimaginable elsewhere confined to an inaccessible and forgotten space testing the feel of the edge of panic,” you wrote. “Then there was the passage between the furnace and the wall I could just squeeze through feeling simultaneously the heat from the cast iron on my belly and the clammy coolness of the stone wall against my back.”

Robert Morris, Passageway, 1961, plywood. Installation view, Yoko Ono’s loft, 112 Chambers Street, New York, June 1961. Robert Morris.

Six years ago, you and I shared a long rectangular gallery at the Reina Sofía in Madrid. In half of the space were my “Dance Constructions,” pieces pretty much consisting of plywood and rope and meant to be performed. In the other half were your pieces, including Corner Beam, Wall-Floor Slab, and Cloud, all painted gray, and Passageway. The two halves of the gallery seemed to be lit differently, or maybe it was the warm color of my plywood and the coolness of the gray of your pieces. And although the two halves of the gallery were clearly separate and not impinging on each other, the pieces and their placement, the plywood and the gray, were in harmony. Back in 1961 you had built my original “Dance Constructions” for me. I had shown/performed them in the series of events in Yoko Ono’s loft on Chambers Street. And you had built your Passageway in that same series. That passageway, infused with the sound of heartbeats, gray, curving and narrowing ad infinitum, had been very hard for me to step into. We separated shortly after, not knowing that decades later we would be graced with the chance to renew our deep-running friendship.

Love,

Simone

Simone Forti is a dancer, artist, and writer based in Los Angeles.