After Kaprow (w/ Rosemary Butcher)

The Silent Room and Book of Journeys

‘After Kaprow’ is a collaborative investigation with dance and visual artist Rosemary Butcher. Representing a continuation and extension of Rosemary’s overall aesthetic trajectory, which emphasises the situation of bodies and their intensive, intrinsic movement qualities in site-specific contexts. The piece continues to interrogate Rosemary’s recent enthusiasm for the practice and research that are involved in the recreation, reinterpretation and recontextualisation of movement that reached an important milestone in the account of Alan Kaprow’s ’18 Happenings in 6 parts’, performed at the Hayward Gallery in 2010. Kaprow’s Happenings and Rosemary’s subsequent reinterpretation of them provided the basis for the concept that was to become ‘After Kaprow’, yet the resulting work has departed considerably from any direct reference point. What remains is the extension of performative context via a dialogue with architectural form, and the possibilities afforded by a juxtaposition of performance with film and the idiomatic potential of the filmic.

After Kaprow comprises of two individual but strongly related works –’The Silent Room’ and ‘Book of Journeys’. Conceptually, the pieces look at the notion of women inhabiting interiors and how these rooms are witness to their activities over time. The performers represent women who have lived out their lives amongst the changing premise of the ‘room’, and enacts the repetitive, ritualistic and habitual movements that occupy spaces. The solace and stillness of the performer references the painted figures of Vilhelm Hammershøi, the Dutch artist famed for his poetic, muted tableaux of women in domestic settings. Butcher and Williams takes these women and places them within time, reinventing their actions but maintaining the slight tension and distance present in the original paintings. Both elements of ‘After Kaprow’ stem from this central notion, stripped down to a still mediation on time in ‘The Silent Room’, and given life and trajectories in the painterly ‘Book of Journeys’.

‘The Silent Room’ takes the form of a dual-screen installation in dialogue with two live performers. The mediated aspect of the piece affords direct opportunities to develop this dialogue along specific spatial and temporal lines. The interplay between the projected and the real suggests vectors of temporal transition. There is a sense of the moment and what simultaneously lies outside of it; we witness the past and present and construct from them potentials for movement in the future. Throughout, there is a focus on stripped down and almost static movements of the body.

‘Book of Journeys’, a dual screen film, was commissioned as part of South East Dance’s ‘Forward Motion’ scheme. Filmed during a one-week residency in Bassano del Grappa, the work examines the notion of women inhabiting rooms. This film draws on the history imbued in the rooms themselves; a monastery and ruined castle reminiscent of the Hammershøi interiors. ‘Book of Journeys’ weaves a narrative that moves from past to future on one side and future to past on the other, overlapping in the present.

The project was made possible with support from Middlesex University, Arts Council England, British Council, Bloomberg LP, The Place, South East Dance and Centro per la Scena Contemporanea, Comune di Bassano Del Grappa.

Selected Performances

COMMA 40 at Bloomberg Space (London, UK)
The Place (London, UK)