Through contemporary photography, video, and painting, this exhibition features human bodies in powerful athletic performance, ecstatic expressions of dance and collective procession. These artworks suggest our need for rituals, ways of gathering, and performing for ourselves and one another. With actions drawn from dance, sportsmanship, and pageantry, New Formations explores modes of kinship, alliance, and competition. Artworks on view convey disparities across race, age, and gender that shape how our bodies move through the world and are seen by others.

Featuring works by artists including Pelle Cass, Jaclyn Conley, Jeremy Deller, Alicia Framis, Dara Friedman, George Georgiou, Steffani Jemison, Tyler Mitchell, Senga Nengundi, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi and Heather Rasmussen

Works by these contemporary artists are shown alongside selections from a recent gift of vernacular photographs from the collection of Peter Cohen. These anonymous, amateur photographs highlight our collective attraction to capture ourselves joining parades, in dance formations, or staging “human pyramids” on the beach. Shown together with the contemporary artists, New Formations captures the need and broad appeal of relating our bodies to sculptural form.

Audio Tour Exhibition Events

Image: Heather Rasmussen, Photo-multigraph #1 (long mirror and socks on teal), 2021, pigment print, 30 x 40 inches. © Heather Rasmussen. Courtesy of The Pit, Los Angeles.

Organized by Sarah Montross, Chief Curator, with Haley Clouser, Curatorial Fellow

With thanks to Ruth Erickson, Mannion Family Senior Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Chief Curator, Colby Museum of Art, and Christina Knight, Assistant Professor of Visual Studies/Director of the Visual Studies Program, Haverford College, for their advisory role for this exhibition.

Please click the images to see the full size and scope of each piece. 

Audio Tour
  • Heather Rasmussen
  • Dara Friedman
  • Philip Trager
  • Senga Nengudi
  • Athleticism and Beauty
  • Pelle Cass
  • Idealized Bodies
  • Human Pyramid

Heather Rasmussen

Image Caption: Heather Rasmussen, Photo-multigraph #1 (long mirror and socks on teal), 2021, pigment print, 30 x 40 inches. © Heather Rasmussen. Courtesy of The Pit, Los Angeles. Speaker: Jessica Roseman, dancer

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Dara Friedman

Image Caption: Dara Friedman, Dancer, 2011, 16 mm film transferred to video, 25 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. Speaker: Jessica Roseman, dancer

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Philip Trager

Image Caption: Philip Trager, Mark Morris Dance Group, 1988, Silver gelatin print, 13.75 x 17.5 inches. Museum Purchase The Frederick P. Walkey Fund, a gift of the Stephen and Sybil Stone Foundation and gift of Mrs. Culver Orswell, by exchange. Speaker: Jessica Roseman, dancer

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Senga Nengudi

Senga Nengudi, Performance Piece, 1978 (detail),
Silver gelatin prints, triptych, Photos by Harmon Outlaw, © Senga Nengudi, 2022. Courtesy Sprüth Magers and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York. Speaker: Jessica Roseman, dancer

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Athleticism and Beauty

Harold Edgerton, Diver Multiflash, 1955, Dye transfer, 20 x 16 inches. Gift of Daniel and Janet Tassel. Speaker: David Malkin, diver

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Pelle Cass

Pelle Cass, BU Terrier Invitational, Day One, 2018, Inkjet print on heavy matte rag paper, 90 x 60 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Speaker: David Malkin, diver

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Idealized Bodies

Photographer now unknown, Vernacular photograph, date unknown, Gift of Peter Cohen. Speaker: Jessica Roseman, dancer

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Human Pyramid

Photographer now unknown, Vernacular photograph, date unknown, Gift of Peter Cohen. Speaker: David Malkin, diver

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