Here is a blog post with comments from the 1st cohort of students on the new Screendance MA at the Place, London; its all about diversity, hybridity and the intersection of practices…
This was a somewhat spontaneous one-day symposium in Basel on the 20th May 2017, organised by Prof. Dr. Ute Holl, with and for students of the ‘Seminar Medienwissenschaften’ (Media Research Seminar) at the University of Basel, CH.
Convened in order to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Maya Deren, it aimed to explore the relation between dance and trance and cinema. Guest speakers included: Ling Ji Hon (who started the day of with a Tai Chi session), Christine Noll Brinckmann, Mathilde Rosier, Claudia Kappenberg, Moira Sullivan, Florence Freitag. The setting was suitably magical, hosted by Neues Kino Basel, a community-led romantic old building complete with Berlin-style ‘Hinterhof’, screening room, large kitchen diner and ample hang-out spaces.
Ute Hall invited everyone to fully immerse themselves in discussions, and to be flexible around timings and programming. This – and the delicious food – led to a lovely, relaxed and conversational atmosphere. Presenters had also been invited to mix academic discussions with more creative approaches and to screen personal work if suitable, which allowed for new connections to emerge between then and now and between different practices. My favourite was a presentation / screening by Mathilde Rosier, whose work has both visual rigour and a magical, playful character.
And guess what, Maya Deren’s footage and sound recordings from Haiti will feature in this year’s DOCUMENTA in Kassel, together with photos by Deren biographer Martina Kudlacek, work by the Haitian artist Andre Pierre and paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil. The exhibition is curated by Natasha Ginwala. See you there?!
Deren’s work clearly continues to fascinate and entrance people, and is perhaps more relevant than ever.
I am following up on my last post about this event/ panorama in Bordeaux 11th May 2017: to make this happen, Camille Auburtin worked with three partners, the Cinéma Jean Eustache de Pessac in Bordeaux, who hosted the screening and lecture, the Université Populaire du Cinéma of Bordeaux (UNIPOP), and the independent association Cinéréseaux. It was an interesting forum as it brought together several different audiences of all ages, from young and mature filmmakers who work with dancers and screendance to those who had never heard of screendance/ video dance, but have a general interest in cinema and experimental work.
The films looked great on a massive screen in this 400 seater cinema, and were discussed in the context of experimental cinema’s rich history.
For a blog post on the event see: https://www.facebook.com/milleAub/posts/10155222269177246?match=Y2FtaWxsYXU%3D
On the 11th May I will be presenting two film programmes in Bordeaux as part of an International Panorama of Screendance organised by L’UNIPOP, Université Populaire Cinéma in association with the Cinéma Jean Eustache Pressac.
Screendance is still relatively unknown in France, both as art practice and as a term (despite the Festival in Bourgogne that is run by Marisa Hayes and Franck Boulègue). French artists tend to speak of Videodance, Vidéodanse, which is not a very useful term and can send out the wrong signals. But apart from that, to an audience who does not know what this practice consist of, what kind of historical, British narrative would you propose and what works would you select for a screening?
I decided to start with the wonderful and groundbreaking structuralist filmmaking and artist’ moving image we have in Britain, to make a link with how movement was explored in these works and how it has developed more recently within screendance. Of course one could build many different programmes with this premise and thereby highlight different approaches and areas of choreographic and editorial interest. Below are the two programmes I will be screening in Bordeaux.
Programme 1 (Historical Perspective): Berlin Horse (1970) Malcolm Le Grice and The Whirlpool (1997) Jayne Parker, followed by Tattoo (2001) Miranda Pennell; Boy (1996) Rosemary Lee and Peter Anderson; Snow (2003) David Hinton and Rosemary Lee; Stand in (2009) Becky Edmunds; El Fuego (2007) Becky Edmunds; Snoplog (2014) Chien-Ming Chang and Katy Pendlebury; Edits (2013) Marisa Zanotti and Lea Anderson.
Programme 2 (Choreocinematic Sensibilities): You made me Love you (2005) 4 minutes, video, Miranda Pennell; Human Radio (2002) 9 minutes, Super 16mm to video, Miranda Pennell; All This Can Happen (2012) 50 min, video, Siobhan Davies and David Hinton.
I look forward to seeing this body of work and to the ‘conversations’ that will emerge between the films.
Some thoughts on the Light Moves Festival, by Claudia Kappenberg
Last week I spend three days at Light Moves, in Limerick (Ireland). The festival offered a rich combination of screenings, symposium, installed works and talks by seasoned artists whose practices ask profound questions as to who we are and how we relate to the world around us.
Performance artist Nigel Rolfe shared images of an extensive body of work, including a couple of works on video, in which a lone figure exposes itself to the elements. Nigel Rolfe at a screendance festival? This might seem like a stretch to some, but I think it is only a sign of our times and of what there is to come. The screen is becoming ever more ubiquitous, and more and more artists are embracing it as a means to make work and to visit/ revisit their material and ideas.
Rolfe undertakes durational, often daylong interventions and condenses these into 2min long videos, giving as much as glimpses of the work through one slow pan. As a member of Black Market International he is one of a group of artists who have been challenging the cultural and cultivated self by asserting their physical material presence, through durational performances in both urban environments and in the landscape. It is a practice of surrender it seems, to time, weight, and whatever conditions one might find oneself in. Sometimes an audience witnesses this work, sometimes Rolfe has no one for company.
In the everyday our bodies tend to be a kind of background at the service of the mind, and inversions of this constellation tend to be painful and unwelcomed. Watching a performance which challenges this order of things, and even witnessing the process on film can be quite unsettling. So why does Nigel Rolfe go to such extremes, expose himself, at times even endangering his life? The work makes me think of ancient sacrificial rites and lone wolf adventures, of existential feats and extreme sports. However, the work also has a strong aesthetic and performances give rise to striking and beautiful images. Performances can look like paintings made from body, earth and sky, not unlike the Romantic paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and his contemporaries. Surrender of Self in the search of the sublime perhaps? This work is as much part of our cultural traditions as it is on its margins, and perhaps this paradox is what makes it so intriguing.
As part of an exchange with the Australian multi-arts centre Carriageworks, the festival also included an exhibition of several works that form part of 24 Frames Per Second, a set of 24 new commisions for screen-based work at the intersection of film, dance and the visual arts. One of the works presented at Light Moves was Running Tongue (2015), the latest cinematic collaboration between choreographer Siobhan Davies and filmmaker David Hinton. The work and its creative process was discussed at a conversation between the curators Mary Wycherley and Jürgen Simpson with Sue Davies. Peeling back the layers that led to this composition, Davies described the brief for the 22 independent dance artists who were invited to make a few seconds each. Key to the composition was a selection of 250 proverbs that Davies and Hinton selected from across the world and which delineate and define woman in one way or another. The invited artists were also given a folder with the visual material and painting references, and they were asked to make a composition within a still image that included a freeze frame of a female, naked runner in profile. This female runner was also the link between the different scenes, running through psychedelic cut-out forests and pausing briefly in each of the scenes. The individual scenarios had to be composed as a photographic collage, all the imagery had to be set in London, and movement was considered a luxury. The resulting work is a highly surface-conscious, digital tapestry of textures, colours and shapes, a series of tableaus with strange and unpredictable constellations. Furthermore the whole thing is not a fixed sequence but digitally randomised. No two screenings will ever be the same.
While the tableaus tend to have a narrative feel, there is little actual story telling and the fragmented nature of the work is somewhat unsettling. Yes there is the lone runner travellling from scene to scene but her solitude is not mitigated. Things happen to her she does not react or interact. Her big stride is beautiful and energetic, but the ongoing, neverending cycle turns it into a relentless and somewhat exhausting activity. One could read the work as a portrait of a generation, in which thoughtfulness and tenderness alternate with sudden spouts of violence. Against the backdrop of the recent, seemingly random attacks in Paris, Germany and Tunesia, and the sudden flare-up between Russia and Turkey, this seems all too real.
The choreographed randomness was already present in All This Can Happen, the previous collaboration between Davies and Hinton and another kaleidoscopic composition of cultural life forms and their multiples. All this can happen, say the films, and all this takes place on screen. Maya Deren argued that film was the defining medium of the 20th century. In the 21st century any differences between the screen and the everyday are melting away.
“By avoiding dancing, Shakespeare’s Jacques refuses the embrace of his own foolishness,” writes Michael Newton in the Guardian in a review on dance on the big screen. And I would add that this aspect of dancing is gaining a new currency at a time when life is increasingly measured, standardised and accounted for. Read the full article;
The era of screendance commissioning for television is long over, and within a wider contemporary landscape of sweeping funding cuts, specialist niche festivals – Dance on Screen at The Place, South East Dance Agency’s Dance for Camera Festival in Brighton, and Moves in Manchester and Liverpool – read as a roll call of the fallen.
It is arguably now easier than has ever been the case to create screen-based work using materials found close to hand and home and to access screening opportunities across a variety of technological platforms as part of a rapidly evolving global screen culture – a culture which includes six-second uploadable loops, myriad mobile phone apps and increasingly lightweight recording devices.
– Chirstinn Whyte