How My Hands Got To Know My Feet - an exhibition by Magali Charrier
Surrealism and contemporary dance make sweet bedfellows. Each has a preoccupation with the expressive potential of the body, and specifically its ability to uncover the hidden content of dreams and desires. In an exhibition currently on display in the theatre bar and foyer of The Place, artist Magali Charrier deftly utilises simple materials like torn sketchbook pages, light pencil handwriting and hole-punched photographs to interpret the experience of the beginner dancer. With fascinating economy Charrier lets these materials evoke the awkward shakiness, confusion of coordination and yearning for grace that surely lies in the heart of every hopeful fledgling to the art form.
In the foyer next to the ticket desk, there is an under-lit counter displaying tiny doctored collage cut-outs of photographs, delicate extractions, cuts and tears in the paper, evoke both sensation and motion. These are presented as archaeological specimens, fossils of the possible prehistory of whatever performance the viewer is about to purchase a ticket to see. Clusters of framed works in the bar area seem to run along themes; the burgeoning mastery of movement patterns, the intimidating landscape of the naked studio space, body parts joining each other to make shapes for the first time. A little head has spiralling legs pencilled in, growing down from the neck, intertwining like a Frankenstein octopus. This could indicate either the entangled first try or the heady rush of finally getting the turn or spin just right, feeling transformed by the motion itself.
As with the best examples of surrealist collage – a canon which Charrier’s work seems to consciously reference – there is a lot of ironic humour here. A female dancer with arms triumphantly raised has the hybrid bottom half of a fish tail, one of the most spare and yet most effective works. Dotted lines and tintype found images of shoes and other body parts remind us of old fashioned methods of teaching the foxtrot or the waltz by placing footprints and lines of direction on the floor. Similarly, this collection of dainty, illustrative works provides a kind of map or illuminated notebook account of the pratfalls and magical discoveries of a journey into dance.
Review: Jeffrey Gordon Baker
The exhibition is open every day before performances, from 7 – 8pm. FREE