Versatile Beings: State Of The Art

Versatile Beings @ Art's Centre, London Road

Feature by Mark Harding | 13 Aug 2011

As the work of dance practicioners becomes ever more gloriously difficulty to categorize (dance, or art?), it is only appropriate, in return, that the fine artist Adeline Bourret has founded and curated the RECREA(C)TION project – an ongoing series of Fine Art shows on the theme of dance. The first exhibition, Versatile Beings, is running during the Fringe.

The show is vital interest not only for the opportunity to compare so many different media and approaches focussed around the same subject, but also as a demonstration of the problems of attempting to neatly compartmentalise the modes of dance, choreography and art in the work of current practitioners.

Rosie O'Grady's Tai Chi uses a traditional medium (monotype) but uses additional lines to add the dimension of time to the image. Another, rather haunting effect is achieved in the photographic prints of Fran Lighthouse – which revives the long exposure technique in way that evokes movement enigmatically like ghosts of previous occupants. Contrast Laura Gill, who also uses long exposures, but with a more abstract feel; more about movement than body. The images are reminiscent of photographs of Loie Fuller, with colours suggesting movement in surprisingly complex spirograph-like patterns.

There are more formal approaches, such as Adeline Bourret photographic prints studies of movement with a slightly surrealistic edge, and there's also plenty wit on display in the show, such as Jeni Allison's composition made of dance fabrics or Ailsa Lochhead's Visual Theme and Function at play, which invites the visitor to move from passive viewing to walking and sitting on the piece. A work that seemed to summarise many of these themes was the video artwork Diagrammer 1 by Riccardo Attanasio. The video shows the performer making a complex diagram in black tape against a white wall. The performer then uses the black lines as a diagram for the movement and shapes his body will make. The diagram becomes part of the dance composition, almost a commentary on the dance, an illustration of the dance, but also the choreography template. The performer then moves the strips of tape to choreograph the next dance section. A terrific exploration of the connections and contentions of portraiture, dance, diagram and dance movement.

An unique feature of the show is it's success at evoking the sense of the body – the kinetic senses and awareness in space, and the sheer playfulness that are some of the great gifts of dance.


Arts Complex, 151 London Road, Edinburgh, EH8 7TJ

5 - 30 August