Test Pieces / Secrets of the Open Sea (2015)

Live performance, 4 channel live video feed, rope / Three channel video installation

Exhibition history 2015 Memory in the Present Tense - Rosemary Butcher Retrospective, Tanz Im August, Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, DE; Nottdance, Nottingham Contemporary, UK; Judson And On And On And On, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, DE

test pieces, berlin (photograph by Dajana Lothert)

Test Pieces and Secrets of the Open Sea are two collaborative works with the dance and visual artist Rosemary Butcher MBE. Rosemary and I worked together for several years before her death in 2016.

Test Pieces is a live gallery work involving four dancers, negotiating a form that is revealed through working with a specific site, thematically linking the connection to Rosemary's specific history of the Judson Dance movement. Inspired by the perception of form in ruins, the work is an active enquiry into what remains, a ‘looking at something that has its root elsewhere’, in a process of choreographic notation that shifts forward and backwards in time.

I situated four monitors within the space which carried individual fragmented live feeds during the performance. Once the live bodies left the space, the monitors acted as the rubble of the active site, traces of the activity that had taken place. The screens would continue to display both live feed and recorded fragments to continue the resonance of the site.

Test Pieces, two channel film version (extract)

A two channel film installation was also created to act as an alternative documentation of the live work. Two instances of the performance meet in time as the dancers pass between screens and moments. The camera occupies the performance space as a body, moving to its own score, the linear movement reflecting that of the dancers.

secrets of the open sea, installation view

Secrets of the Open Sea is a three channel film installation featuring performer Lucy Suggate. The work is a sculptural and immersive experience around the concept ‘desolation of things past and decayed.’ References to and from the past are integral to the work which functions as an active ‘searching’ for lost legacies that the camera and spectator engage in.

Suggate enacts an intricate series of scores which destroy and rebuild themselves, while the camera surrounds and observes her body in a 'whirlpool' formation, spiralling toward and away from the body at the centre.

Secrets of the Open Sea (extract)

Choreography/Concept: Rosemary Butcher

Film/Concept: Sam Williams

Dancers for Test Pieces in Berlin: Charlie Morrisey, Ben Ash, Lauren Potter, Lucy Suggate, Elena Giannotti

Dancers for Test Pieces in Nottingham: Sabine Glenz, Judith Hummel, Ana Mira, Katrin Schafitel

Dancers for Test Pieces in Munich: Sabine Glenz, Judith Hummel, Mey Sefan, Katrin Schafitel

Sound by Simon Keep

Camera: Paul Bates

“Memory in the Present Tense”, Berlin is a production of Tanz im August / HAU Hebbel am Ufer in collaboration with the Akademie der Künste. Supported by Arts Council England, British Council, Middlesex University, Why Not Assosiates, Dance 4 / Nottdance Festival, Tanztendenz München, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in collaboration with Joint Adventures München.