Billy Cowie Art of Movement/Dark Rain
I went to see a showing of Billy Cowie’s Art of Movement/Dark Rain. The performances featured a combination of a live dancer and pre-recorded, projected dancers, which were viewed with 3D glasses.
The most exciting element of the pieces to me was the use of projection onto the dancers’ bodies. Drawings by German artist, Silke Mansholt were projected over each dancer, creating an abstract landscape for them to embody. This creation of space using projection is a idea that I use within my own practice. I have been projecting my Rorschach film as an environment for my performance. I aspire to create a greater relationship and reactivity between my projection and film, similar to what Cowie’s pieces achieved. Athough, throughout Art of Movement/Dark Rain I was continuously drawn to the pre-recorded dancers over the live dancer. Within my own work I want the live performer to have a strong presence that will not fade into the background.
I also found interesting the portrait framing of each dancer that reminded me of Oriental scrolls, hung side by side. This use of space and framing is something I will consider and take inspiration from for my own work.
Loie Fuller was an American dancer who pioneered lighting design within dance. She also invented the ‘Serpentine Dance’, a style of skirt dance that involved manipulating large swaths of fabric to create dramatic forms around the body.
Portrait of Loïe Fuller, by Frederick Glasier, 1902
I am interested in how she combines the elements of light and costume to change the form of the body. In her work the body is transformed to evoke natural forms, reminiscent of butterflies or flowers. Although I am not looking within my own practice at creating such theatrical imagery, the techniques and the complete metamorphosis achieved through the materials is extremely useful and exciting to me.
In a similar way I am working with costume, the Chinese Water Sleeves, to transform the body. However, instead of creating such dramatic forms I want to use costume to create the illusion of the body being consumed and to create a sense of conflict between the performer and their own body.
I am also using the costume to isolate areas of the body, so unlike Fuller, who used her costume to hide the body, I am using mine to reveal and highlight areas of the body.
Experiment working with layering costume to create an interplay of texture. The transition from more rigid, practical fabric to light and fluid material works to imply a sense of vulnerability and fragility for the performer.
The act of underdressing relates to daily gestures that one usually undertakes in private and thus the action itself makes the performer vulnerable to the audience’s gaze.
Janine Antoni is a contemporary artist, whose work centres around the mediums of performance, photography and sculpture. She uses the body and its properties as a literal tool, within her work. She utilises the capabilities of its components such as the mouth’s function of chewing.
I am interested in the functionality in her understanding of the body, in how she takes a typically useful action and repurposes it into an act of futility. I am particularly interested in her 1992 piece, Loving Care where she dips her hair in dye and uses it to mop the floor of a gallery space. In doing this she simultaneously transforms the space from being clean to being covered in black liquid and forces the audience from the space.
The repurposing of her hair into a mop is a violent transformation that to me, communicates a kind of self annihilation. And by commanding the body to perform the act of ‘cleaning’ the floor with black dye, Antoni expresses a sense of futility and anguish.
The action of cleaning also produces for me, ideas of self-improvement, perfecting and purging; as if trying to clean ones soul. The counteractive black dye on the white floor representing the impossibility of the task. A key effect of the action is that it clears of the space of audience, which could be seen to represent the alienating of the performer as a result of the act of self-cleansing.
I am really interested in this idea of internal anxiety and self-destructive desire for perfection. In relation to my own work the act of repurposing the body to create a violent and distressing action is highly relevant to me.
Visually the monochrome colouring and the fluidity of the materials also link to my work, where I have been using black ink to create environments for performance. The transformation of the space from white to black is also an idea that features within my work, where I have used black ink within film installations to destroy the image.
In my previous piece Imp, I projected 35mm slides of rorschach images onto my back. As a development of this I wanted to introduce the element of movement to these images. I created film versions of Rorschach prints using ink and water. I then mirrored the footage to mimic the layout of the original Rorschach images. I was careful to maintain the organic qualities of the slides, as I felt the way the previous images melded into the skin was important to enforce the unity between body and projection.
I also made sure to maintain a balance of light and dark, so that there is a clear contrast in the when projected on the body. The dark elements of the film will cast shadows, deleting and obliterating areas of the body.
The performance of this film is intended to be durational, with this in mind I was careful to keep a deliberate pace to the movement of the ink. There are moments when there is no movement in the ink and it is just a still black or white image. This stillness will be contrasted with erratic and relentless movement, as discussed in my ides for movement progression.
Adara Sánchez Anguiano
Adara Sánchez Anguiano is a Spanish illustrator who studied Fine Art. His drawings create delicate, fragile and bony impressions of the human body, similar to the artist Egon Schiele’s spindly style.
His series Take Off Your Clothes is particularly relevant to my own practise. Through the medium of drawing he creates empty space through the body, where the clothes should be. This isolation of limbs and the use of absence relate to my methods of obliterating areas of the body through materials to create a new, strange physique.
He also captures the fragile nature of the human body that I am working to portray in my own work. By highlighting spine, hip bones and ribs his visions of the human body appear beautifully breakable. I want to create a similar sense of fragility within my performance work. I aim to use costume to make the body appear small and vulnerable. This will then be combined with movement to further enhance the frailty of the body.
Adara at Cargo Collective
Chinese Water Sleeves (Shuixiu)
I have been researching Chinese and Asian dance as an exploration of my own ethnicity and have discovered Chinese Water Sleeves Dance or Shuixiu. The dance involves using extremely long sleeves to exaggerate movement and create beautiful, fluid effects. I want to use water sleeves as a tool within my movement work.
They will simultaneously represent my own Chinese origins (and the auto biographical nature of my exploration) as well as being suggestive of a straitjacket and my interest in anxiety and mental illness. In addition to this they are extensions of the body which change and abstract the human form. I think they will create a really interesting movement quality when combined with my ideas for my movement progression.
Visually the sleeves remind of the Rebecca Horn, Arm Extensions (1968) which alters the form of the body through creating thick upright structures around the arms. I am inspired by this contemporary use of a similar technique.
I first encountered water sleeves within the movie House of Flying Daggers which I was very struck by. The movie represented for me a beautiful exploration of Chinese culture and inspired and fascinated me. The imagery, use of colour and the general cinematography felt distinctly influenced by Chinese culture. I would like to achieve a similar recognizability within my work.
Lily Cai Dance