I’m dancing for you from the other side of the room

‘I’m dancing for you from the other side of the room’ 2012 Hossein Ghaemi & Hyun Jung Cho. Curated by Benjamin Ryan at Sawtooth ARI Launceston, Tasmania.

With his extremely rich and unique visual language, Ryan exposes a multi-layered and unfolding site to connect avant-garde art with contemporary and so-called primitive culture, objectifying man’s ever-lasting search for meaning, his inability to find it, and the objects’ role within this quest wherein, cleverly, the gallery does not indulge in presenting dance and rather challenges the restraints that previous artistic conventions have made on the body, broader social and cultural constraints—the stubbornly gendered codes of walking, talking, and throwing an arm out, for example—necessarily limiting the range of classical perceptions of motion resulting from modeling on the experimental dance laboratory set up in Rennes, Brittany by the stars of French choreography housing a collection of people rather than objects suggesting the dance practitioners to make a wholesale return to the ‘everyday body’ as an alternative to the ‘performing body’ which displays certain skills and virtuosity that speak of classification, contemplative of a battle against a narcissistic/voyeuristic model of dance performance, a critique that has ideological repercussions for the  audience denying the various combinations and contradictions of figural movement, image, spoken or printed text, sound and spatial perspective, and the relation of this material to the expecting audience, an area for constant interrogation, jettisoning a whole lexicon of formalized movement and behaviour, realizing instinctively that certain concessions to ‘lifelikeness’ would have to be made; indeed, this interest is less in dance proper than in dance’s many mediations, which helps explain an attraction to an understanding of dance that relies not on pedestrian tasks or set phrases but rather on radical shifts of awareness that the auxiliary stage establishes to frustrate conventional, analytic approaches to viewing; one feels associations arise and then fall back under the surface and we confess it is impossible not to fall under the sway of individual dancers; everyone’s a soloist, each one a gifted performer, their soliloquies independent of their actions, consisting of repeatedly moving objects around the space in accordance with flashes revealed as the performance takes its course, conjured in a dialectical form that negotiates between the real, its representation by an author, and an observing, critical audience; as artistic production has become more specialized in an industrial world marked by an increasing division of labor, it also grows increasingly divorced from direct functionality and while it apparently evades instrumentalisation, it can simultaneously lose social relevance, sparking a reaction wherein different avant-gardes set out to break the barriers of art and to recreate its relation to life and the body as it operates in the world, a world where presently the artist declares it is not enough to reveal the repetitive patterns that transcend historical change, it is necessary to constantly repeat the revelation of these patterns—this repetition itself should be made repetitive, because every such repetition of the weak, transcendental gesture simultaneously produces further confusion, and so forth until instead of fast-changing prefixes—‘post,’ ‘anti,’ ‘neo,’ ‘trans,’ and ‘sub’—that suggest an implacable movement forward, against or beyond, and try desperately to be ‘in,’ the curator proposes it go off: ‘off’ as in ‘off kilter,’ ‘off Broadway,’ or ‘way off,’ ‘off-brand,’ ‘off the wall,’ ‘off-color’, and occasionally ‘off the map’ to touch on the thematic and physical location from which concept and matter are borne outside of the gallery in a nonlinear production of cultural evolution through trial and error, insisting the Off-modern perspective affect our understanding of our elective affinities and alternative solidarities through time and space, presenting both a temporal and a spatial dimension: projects from different corners of the globe can appear belated or peripheral in the familiar centers of modern/postmodern culture yet are frequently embraced by international artists emerging from such places as Seoul and Tehran in a release from their usual contexts and stories, liberating them from their histories and latent nostalgia, and infusing new (and importantly, present) life, essentially presenting reborn characters that come from a moment that is not quite of our own – yet while they appear slightly unfamiliar, they are recognisable to the repetitive, and can speak to us out of vulnerability, the precarity tending to heighten awareness of circumstance and encourage resourcefulness for the inhabitants of interstitial space, neither public or private in the classical sense of the terms – it is using a dull axe in the attempt to motivate this public and private axis cross-pollination, with reverie germinating the kind of support that leads to the construction of cultural identity serving to impact the creation and resignification of social imaginaries, and yet, it is always imagined that ‘nothing’ happens, the performance artist stands up and says “expectation will always destroy you because God only knows what I’m going to do and number two, you know, it’s not always about exciting the audience, it’s not always about making you feel like, ‘Ah! this is it, this is art – this is the next thing’” and this will go on as endurance outlasts the most perseverant collectives, ever and anon recognition ignites style that piques curiosity, that great indicator of our times (not to be confused with its repellant and oft-confused subordinate, fashion) bringing us back to the gallery, to Sawtooth and the body, as it appears and imprints, the figure a stylus, le style est l’homme meme, a statement  of pre-Enlightenment wisdom present in the artist’s presentation, where man is the instrument as the figures he makes appear both by him and not by him; though it is this not-by-him that can agitate for the reason that style excludes, it is inherently discriminatory as we cast a vote in its determining and, if alert and lucky, recognise the side of historical influence (or politics, or fashion) we’re selecting as a decision is committed to by an artist’s knowledge that a capacity for lateral, horizontal movement has a flattening effect upon not only their production, but now also their bodies and minds until perceptions of new shapes on the horizon appear that will follow the convergence of new forms of popular expression that do not deny, but include the economic realities that have initially allowed advances in symbolic exchange; for example the movement of commodities presupposes a demand, for an artwork something similar happens where it must conform to an established, shared language of representation in order to be understood as art when it travels and these exotic figurative variations are essentially compelled to achieve this, as they are dancing, for you, from the other side of the room.

Hyun Jung Cho I’m Lucky 2012 Collage on Vinyl


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