SVA alumnus Dan Halm (MFA 2001 Illustration as Visual Essay) has put together a compelling new exhibition that explores the relationship between art and dance. Appropriately titled “FiveSixSevenEight” and currently on view at HERE Arts Center in Manhattan through October 10 (with a reception on Thursday, September 10), the exhibition features the work of alumni Nir Arieli (BFA 2012 Photography), Tad Beck (BFA 1991 Photography) and Rachel Papo (MFA 2005 Photography, Video and Related Media), as well Glenys Barton and Dana Bell. SVA Close Up recently caught with Halm via email to find out more.
What inspired you to put this show together?
The inspiration for the show came from the space itself. Since HERE is best known for producing some of the best Off-Off Broadway theater (including Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues and Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge), I thought: What could be more appropriate then looking at the intersection of both dance and art, and how those two art forms compliment each other and serve as inspiration to produce work? In some cases the dance informs the art creation directly and in other cases dance serves as the subject matter or muse for the artist. I wanted to make sure that the exhibition reflected both aspects fluidly.
Why did you select these artists?
I wanted bold choices of work that spoke of the power of both mediums—art and dance. While most of the work presented in the show is photography (there is also some video and ceramic sculpture), each artist has a perspective that is each their own.
Are there any pieces/works in the exhibition that you are especially excited about?
Honestly, I’m excited by all the work presented in the show—each of the artists showcased inspires me. Curating a show like this gives me a deeper appreciation of dance (an art form that I truly love and am excited by) and the artists’ take gives the viewers insight on ballet and modern dance. Since this Q&A is for SVA’s blog, I’ll talk about the three SVA alumni in the show:
Nir Arieli‘s series of images tackles the visual dialogue between photography and dance. Photography’s inherent power lies in its ability to capture a single moment, whereas dance captures a series of continuous movements. Arieli combines the two art forms seamlessly by layering photographic images that let the viewer contemplate the variations of movements from the dancers and the newly formed abstractions.
Tad Beck‘s Double Document series investigates the relationship of performance and abstraction. Beck photographed dancers, choreographers and performers in either improvised or choreographed movements “typical” to their approach, then selected images were printed and place on the floor where the subject re-executed the movement directly on the photographic print, distressing and tearing the print. Those prints were then re-photographed and highlight movement in two ways: first, as straightforward representation, and second, as a sculptural trace. Double Document collapses multiple photographic moments into one photographic image.
In Desperately Perfect, Rachel Papo focuses her lens on students from the renowned Vagnova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. From the age of 10 until 18, 12 hours a day, six days a week, on the barre or in the classroom, students of this school spend the majority of their youth in fierce competition with one another. In their hope for fame, fortune and a better life, these adolescents strive for a level of perfection that seems always just out of reach. Papo taps into her own experience of studying ballet for nine years to explore the struggles, desires and sympathetic view of this beautiful art form.
Last but not least: Will there be dancing at the opening?
While there is not any formally scheduled dancing at the opening, I’m not opposed to an informal dance routine or two.
Photos from top down: Nir Arieli, Austin, 2011, archival pigment print; Tad Beck, Double Document—Neal Beasley 1, 2013, Ultrachrome print, edition of 3; and Rachel Papo, Yana and Yulia Backstage St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007, digital C-print, edition of 5. Courtesy of the artist and ClampArt, New York.