Moving bodies, moving images. Whitechapel Gallery

Moving bodies, moving images brings together a selection of short films made over the past decade by contemporary artists exploring the intersection of dance, choreography and the moving image. The participating artists are: Alexandra Bachzetsis, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Eagle? Budvytyt?, Eric Minh Cuong Castaing, Ali Farid, Hetain Patel, Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, and Alberta Whittle. Presented through a range of projections and screens scattered throughout the galleries, these moving image works focus on performing bodies and unfold both as individual works but also as collective narratives, exploring subject matter. topicality, ranging from gender politics and desire to body memory, resistance, personality. healing and collective identities.

Unlike the stripped-down documentary approach of previous decades, which often focused on a solo dance in front of a camera, the works included in Moving bodies, moving images are more cinematic, with the performance taking place in a theatrical or cinematic setting. The first section of the exhibition brings together works that focus on the body, its performance in man-made environments, such as the street or the club, and other spaces shaped by vernacular cultures. An ideal place to live (2018) by Alexandra Bachzetsis focuses on the seemingly indifferent behavior of a pair of androgynous teenagers in a gymnasium and explores whether the gestures can be invented or are based on a pre-established ratio of movements.

Creation of a new work, Les Gayrillères (2022), the collaborative artist duo Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz explores the political force of performance in the dark spaces of the nightclub, cruising zone or underground hangout. The dancers’ costumes are the sole source of light, illuminating their movement and emphasizing the right to control one’s own degree of visibility.

Hetain Patel was drawn to comic books, superhero fantasies, and other forms of popular culture as a youngster, fantasizing about having the agency and power to escape racial abuse. patel’s movie Trinity (2021) explores language and physical communication and combines Kathak dance and martial arts, culminating in a fight scene in which a seemingly universal language blending sign language, Tai Chi and other martial arts brings reconciliation . In Faz que vai [Set to go] (2015), Barbara Wagner and Benjamin of Burca, who typically collaborate with non-actors for their projects, explore frevo, a style of dance and music originating in Recife, Brazil, as part of Carnival. Wagner and de Burca subvert the social norms of frevo through the genre fluidity of four dancers who bring together elements of capoeira, drag and voguing.

The second half of the exhibition explores the relationship between the human body and the landscape. On display is Compost Songs: Changing Bodies, Imploding Stars (2020) by Egle Budvytyté which is currently showing in Milk of Dreams at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Shot in the lichen forest and sand dunes of the Curonian Spit in Lithuania, the film depicts bodies moving to each other in close proximity, and draws on biological theory and science fiction, considering the need for intertwined networks between humans and non-humans to nurture interspecies relationships.

Ali Faridwork In the time of reflux (2019) highlights a number of local residents on the Iranian island of Qeshm during the celebration of Nowruz Sayadeen (Fisherman’s New Year). Their performances draw attention to local customs and traditions, the material environment and the natural environment of an island located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, a strategic passage for the world oil trade, but apparently out of time. Eric Minh Cuong Castaing combines dance, imagery, sounds and objects to explore the experience of fragility, loss of mobility and the importance of gestures in connecting and communicating with others. At the Whitechapel Gallery, two films by Form(s) of life (2021), a project involving palliative care patients with a degenerative disease, features a dancer and a boxer who work with performers to regain some of their old movement. Filmed outdoors, the protagonists use the landscape as a backdrop to recreate slow and intentional movements.

In 2020, Alberta Whittle has produced works in response to the pandemic, confinement and the Black Lives Matter movement. Filmed in Scotland, South Africa and Barbados, RESET (2020) is a polyphonic journey that brings together the voices of writers, performers and musicians. One of the central figures, choreographer and performer Mele Broomes is pictured draped in a costume of seagrass and seashells as she dances through the sparse domestic interior and through the landscaped grounds of a British stately home, reclaiming the space usually associated with whiteness and privilege. Whittle connects fears of contagion, moral dilemma and xenophobia and urges audiences to become active viewers rather than passive by calling for healing, rest and community in a time of inequality.

Also on display are materials related to the making of the films, including production stills, research, reference texts and scores.

About the artists:

Alexandra Bachzetsis (born in 1974 in Zurich; lives and works in Zurich) is an artist and choreographer. Her interdisciplinary practice unfolds at the intersection of dance, performance, visual arts and theatre, involving body choreographies and how popular culture provides source material for gesture, expression and identification. She explores the mutual influence between the use of gesture and movement in mainstream, commercial and art media.

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz (born 1972 in Lausanne and 1963 in Berlin; live and work in Berlin) have been working together since 2007. Their film installations capture performances in front of the camera, often beginning with a song, image or score. Their choreography focuses on the tensions between visibility and opacity, questioning normative historical narratives and viewer conventions. The interpreters of their films are choreographers, dancers, artists and musicians, with whom they maintain an ongoing dialogue on performance, the violent history of visibility, but also companionship, glamor and resistance.

Hetain Patel (born 1980, Bolton, UK; lives and works in London) works through film, performance, painting and costume design to examine “identity and language, challenging assumptions common ones based on how we look or where we come from”. Growing up in a working-class British Gujarati household on the outskirts of Bolton, Patel turned to popular culture to escape racial abuse and social alienation. Patel works in multiple languages, culturally and artistically, and often collaborates with artists from different disciplines and with family members.

Barbara Wagner and Benjamin of Burca (born in 1980 in Brazil and born in 1975 in Germany; lives and works in Recife, Brazil) produces films and video installations featuring protagonists engaged in cultural production. The duo usually collaborates with non-actors, from writing scripts to directing performances in front of the camera. The resulting works highlight the cultural, economic and social conditions of the contexts in which they are filmed.

Eagle? Budvytyt? (b. 1981, Kaunas, Lithuania; lives and works in Amsterdam) works at the intersection of music, poetry, radio, video and performance to explore the power of collectivity, vulnerability and the permeability between bodies and the environments they inhabit. Inspired by a choreography composed of existing movements and gestures, Budvytyt? questions the awareness of what surrounds us through partly staged and partly improvised situations.

Ali Farid(b. 1985, Kuwait; lives and works in Kuwait and Puerto Rico)’s multidisciplinary practice ranges from writing and drawing to film and sculpture. Farid gives visibility to stories hidden by the dominant discourse. She writes: “I started working somewhere between art, architecture and urban anthropology. Today, I’m still interested in these areas, but with a much more focused point of how informal networks are forced to fill the gap in formal structure.

Eric Minh Cuong Castaing (born 1979, Seine-Saint-Denis, France; lives and works in Marseille, France) is an artist and choreographer. He was an associate artist at the Ballet National de Marseille from 2016 to 2019. His choreographic works explore relational modes, representations and perception of bodies in the 21st century, questioning the relationship between reality and fiction, nature and culture, organic and artificial. In 2007, he founded the dance company Shonen, which produces shows, installations, performances and films.

Alberta WhittleThe research practice of (born 1980 in Bridgetown, Barbados; lives and works between Barbados and Scotland) is concerned with the legacy of slavery and apartheid, the erasure of black people in the everyday society by avoiding and suppressing black stories and perspectives and ecological emergency. His moving image works intertwine film sequences and found material, text and sound.

Moving bodies, moving images
October 12, 2022 – January 9, 2023
Galleries 1, 8 & 9

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Whitechapel Gallery

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