Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Body Project - Lectures this week

This week started with 2 lectures offering other tutor's interpretation of the project and both were really enjoyable.

Lesley's approach was more about the physical aspects, about the way some artists have approached the topic in a more physical way. It was very interesting and a different view point than I had considered, however, there was one film clip that she showed that has stayed with me since. The piece was Sam Taylor-Wood's "Brontosaurus" (1995).

As the artsist explains:
First I filmed a man who was dancing naked in his bedroom, to the rhythm of very fast techno-jungle music. Then I took away the music and projected the film in slow motion. While I was filming, his movements became almost alien, they made no sense, he went through all these motions and they ended up seeming clumsy. In slow-motion they became very beautiful, but totally ungainly. Then I changed the music and introduced Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, a melancholy excerpt … it became a eulogy to living, even if the person seems to be doing a dance of death, because it is so fragile, delicate and vulnerable.
I was mesmerised by this film; I'm still haunted by the image of the dancing man. Perhaps it's the music that makes it so poignant; but the description of it as "a dance of death" is almost how I felt about it. The man is athletic but thin, so when he dances his ribs are accentuated and his hair is very short, almost shaven. I felt like I was watching the dance of a concentration camp victim. When he opens his arms, it's almost religious, and when he dances balletically, it's almost pitiful.

The second lecture was by Richard (Walker) and was about man's approach to animals and culture. He talked about various aspects susch as the Egyptian god Anubis who had the head of a Jackal, Pan (part man, part goat), the Centaurs (half horse, half man) etc. He also talked about how we use animals as metaphors - "he behanved like an animal". It was extremely interesting and he asked us to consider how we now interact with animals ie. we no longer have an authentic relationship with them, we are detached from them and animals are now approached more as a spectacle eg. zoos, or how we treat them as pets and in some cases they are treated as babies! (And yes, I talk to my cat, but I treat her as a grown woman/cat - most of the time!!)

Richard did end his talk on a rather amusing note and that was a video of Marcus Coates performing a shamanistic ritual in a Liverpool high rise! He had the full deer skin outfit on, although I did note the hooves were held on to his wrist by elastic bands!! I'm not sure how serious or how tongue in cheek it was meant to be, but it was hard not to laugh (although to be fair, most of the funny parts were the ladies reactions to Marcus's performance!)

Marcus Coates, Journey to the Lower World (2004)


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