Siobhan Davies Commissions, Bargehouse, London
Thursday 10 November 2011
The new works produced by Siobhan Davies Commissions are weirdly bloodless. Davies, an established choreographer, has commissioned dance colleagues to create new works, in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. All four works stress the process of making art. It's self-conscious rather than illuminating.
The new works – installations, drawings and films – are on show at the Bargehouse gallery. Admission is free, so audiences can drop in and out of performances. Dancers wait in the corners of gallery rooms, moving in to dance.
A Dance of Ownership, A Song in Hand was created by dance artist Gill Clarke with the Turner Prize-nominated visual artist Lucy Skaer. They started by creating a double exposure. First, they filmed the uninhabited island of St Kilda, a wild landscape of sea and cliffs. Then, rewinding and reusing the film, they shot images of Mount Stuart, the extravagant Victorian home of the fifth Marquis of Bute, the island's previous owner. A third image is overlaid: a hand grasping and gesturing.
St Kilda and Mount Stuart are both extraordinary places. Slapped onto the same film, they wash each other out. Whether it's blue sky or gilded ceiling, the colours blur into muddy sepia, losing character and identity. In the room, two dancers in beige suits solemnly wind and rewind the film.
LandMark is a performance installation, created in collaboration with artist Bruce Sharp. Dancers Deborah Saxon and Henry Montes move around a room hung with flicker books on strings. Sometimes they engage with each other, but both remain detached.
In one sequence, Montes slaps his hands down onto his thighs. Then he does the same to Saxon, sitting opposite him. She removes his hands. Yet there's little personality here, no sense of personal space invaded or individual reaction.
A Question of Movement, a video by Montes and Marcus Coates, is the strongest work here. The artists ask members of the public to think of a question that is relevant to their own lives. Coates then tries to express it in dance. The people asking the questions are friendly and engaged, sitting in sunny kitchens or untidy bedrooms.
What Isn't Here Hasn't Happened is a series of drawings by Sarah Warsop and Tracey Rowledge. It records a dance we don't see, choreography set down with mark-making in graphite. The grey smudges add up to a colourless view of dance, unfortunately characteristic of this project.
To 13 November (www.siobhandavies.com/commissions)
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