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A treasure house of movement-led hybridity

Keith Gallasch, Interview, Carriageworks: 24 Frames Per Second, Co-Curator Beatrice Gralton

Francois Chaignaud and César Vayssié, The Sweetest Choice, 24 Frames Per Second, Carriageworks, 2015 Francois Chaignaud and César Vayssié, The Sweetest Choice, 24 Frames Per Second, Carriageworks, 2015
photo courtesy the artists
24 screen installations by 16 Australian and eight overseas artists—choreographers, filmmakers, video artists, contemporary performance makers—and dancers or other collaborators who inspire them. This is Carriageworks’ greatly anticipated 24 Frames Per Second, a major exhibition of 24 commissioned installations created “at the nexus between film, dance and the visual arts” [press release]. Three years in the making, it’s the outcome of Carriageworks’ successful bid for funds made available by the Australia Council’s National Strategy for the Development of Screen Dance initiative.

Australian screen dance in the 1990s and 2000s, with its links to international forums and festivals, its award-winning makers and our own nurturer of the form, ReelDance (its significant collection of films now publicly accessible at the UNSW Library) enjoyed great prominence. That’s not been the case in recent years. Perhaps the form will be reinvigorated by 24 Frames Per Second although the exhibition’s focus, if with choreographers and dancers involved, is firmly on a meeting of art forms: “the exhibition has been conceived in response to a shift towards interdisciplinary and collaborative experimentation in contemporary artistic practice” [press release].

Installation is not new to screen dance, but 24 Frames’ total commitment to it is, in respect of scale, the disciplinary diversity and hybridity it embraces. Hence the excitement and curiosity that anticipates 24 frames—will it yield innovations beyond the dance screen legacy, a great furthering of the hybrid arts, an expanded arts audience and new opportunities for artists, especially those in a challenged dance ecosystem?


I spoke with Beatrice Gralton, co-curator with Nina Miall of 24 Frames Per Second. She describes the process of putting the event together as “a very collaborative process from the beginning. The selection of artists was made by Lisa Havilah, Lisa French, Nina Miall and myself. We talked about who we thought would make an interesting contribution to the project at different levels—emerging, mid-career, established, experimental, Australian, Indigenous, international—the whole lot.”

“For the artists there was really an open brief,” says Gralton. “Here’s the commission, there’s no thematic; you can do what you want; you can collaborate with whoever you want; you’ve got this much money; we can help you raise additional money if you need it and let’s just keep talking along the way. The artists came to us with all kinds of thoughts and display requirements and live components. It’s been really interesting because we’ve approached artists who work in such different ways.”

Location & design

We’ve had to consult really closely with the artists so that works in the enormous cavernous space that is Carriageworks will be presented in the best possible way. What makes it interesting for us is that we’re not a traditional gallery space. We don’t have a white cube and you can’t fake it. If anything, that works to our advantage because what we’re trying to do with this exhibition is a big experiment. We’ve been talking to all the artists to see how they want their works to be displayed and then trying to create an exhibition that really allows for that.”

24 Frames Per Second will be located in Carriageworks’ 6,000 square metre annex comprising Bays 22 to 24, where screen works in the Biennale of Sydney program were shown in 2014. Works will also be shown in that other expansive space, the Carriageworks foyer.

Galton says that the exhibition design for the annex comprises “a hub with four quadrants and a central chamber, and from this hub two corridors lead back out into the space. We are excited about the design, it’s fairly unconventional and we hope people enjoy navigating the exhibition as a whole with its many parts. It’s quite disorienting. Works are displayed on the exterior walls and within chambers. The idea is that as you enter you’ll see a number of long views of works on the walls and you’ll then be able to choose your own adventure.” As always a big challenge, says Gralton, is sound: “Some artists have asked for headphones and some don’t want them; a couple of works are silent. We’re also carpeting and baffling the interior spaces, so that helps.”

What screening durations should visitors be prepared for? “Anywhere between four minutes and I think the longest work is 45 minutes. You might want to visit a couple of times. Some of the works have a narrative arc, some don’t.”

Natalie Cursio, Daniel Crooks, Untitled Natalie Cursio, Daniel Crooks, Untitled
image courtesy Carriageworks
Installation construction

I ask about the demands of installation construction. Gralton tells me that Japanese artist Saburo Teshigawara’s Broken Lights comprises a four-channel work for which he’s constructing a box for the viewer to walk into with walls and ceiling that act as rear-projection screens. “The overall image is of shattered glass, so you walk into a box of shattered glass.” “Will we walk on glass?” “No, but you’ll see the dancing, which is. It’s a really beautiful work.” In Lizzie Thomson’s White Record, “Four large screens will be suspended from the ceiling and they’re rear projected, but there’s about a metre in between them. So you’ll walk into the space and be surrounded by them.”

In a conversation last year, Gralton recalls, Melbourne choreographer Nat Cursio said, “‘I can really see my work on a freestanding monolith.’ So we’ve built for her an eight-metre long, four-metre tall monolith onto which the work will be projected.” Cursio approached a video artist she’d long wanted to work with, Daniel Crooks. His inherently choreographic sensibility is evident in his vertical video ‘time slicing,’ which transforms people and public spaces into beautifully fluent rhythmic abstractions. The work includes, onscreen, influential senior Australian dancer and choreographer Don Asker. Gralton adds, “It’s been great to commission artists and then see who they want to work with.”

Emergent themes

The curation of 24 Frames wasn’t thematic, but however Gralton thinks one theme “that has emerged is the performative body’s relationship to technology—futuristic, dysfunctional, therapeutic, anthropomorphic—all of those. And vernacular dance and mythology is another theme we’re seeing in works by Angelica Mesiti, Christian Thompson, S Shakthidharan, Khaled Sabsabi and also Lizzie Thomson.”

Gralton thinks cine-choreography is also evident: “the camera as choreographer…in the works of Teshigawara, Michaela Davies, David Hinton and Sriwhana Spong. There are some really interesting interrogations of the dance film as a genre. Artists who have taken that on in my mind are Brian Fuata, Byron Perry and Antony Hamilton. And then the figure in the landscape, as well as elements of portraiture…and definitely dance and performance representing some kind of social and collective expression.

“These are very much the ideas that artists are dealing with, pushing their mediums to the max and thinking about technology and always the body and always landscape. We really hope that this project has given artists a chance to experiment and do things that perhaps they’ve been thinking about for a while but haven’t had the forum.”

Carriageworks, 24 Frames Per Second, Sydney, 18 June-2 Aug; artist talks 20 and 27 June

RealTime issue #127 June-July 2015 pg. 8

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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