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Precarious Movements: Conversations is a three-part program of live talks with artists, curators and conservators that reflects on what happens when works of a choreographic nature enter into the museum. Each session focuses on a particular phase of a work’s museum life cycle: how its presentation challenges existing display systems and program infrastructure; how its ephemerality and mutability confront current collection and acquisition frameworks; and how a choreographic work’s particular relationship to body, memory and social networks might shift institutional practices of archiving and preservation.
Session 2. Square Peg: Rethinking and Reconfiguring the Museum Collection
Date: Tuesday 27 October, 8pm
Panel: Lisa Catt (Assistant Curator, International Art, AGNSW), Victoria Hunt (artist), Shelley Lasica (artist) and Tania Doropoulos (Director, Anna Schwartz Gallery)
Moderator: Pip Wallis (Curator, Contemporary Art, NGV)
There is a notable absence of choreographic works in museum collections. An obstacle seem to exist at the most fundamental level — the very way museums understand the art object and structure the process of collecting. This session looks at how artists and institutions are confronting the limitations of current acquisition frameworks and are considering ways in which collections might make space for living practice and immaterial context.
Shelley Lasica and Tania Doropoulos look to Lasica’s work Dress: A Costumed Performance with Designer Martin Grant, 1997 – 2019, as a model for how artists might approach the acquisition of their work. Artist Victoria Hunt discusses her experiences within institutional contexts, reflecting on how museum ontologies and temporalities might be challenged and changed. And curator Lisa Catt discusses how the archive might circumvent institutional hierarchies and dependencies on objecthood to represent a wider range of artforms within a museum collection.
Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum is a research project led by a group of independent artists, curators, conservators, and academics affiliated with UNSW, AGNSW, MUMA, NGV and Tate.
Shelley Lasica, Dress
Dress is a twenty-five minute choreographed performance devised by Shelley Lasica, where a solo performer interacts with a series of costumes designed by Martin Grant. Interrogating how the body behaves, and can be arranged by the physical conventions of clothing, the work was conceived as a response to experience of looking and being looked at. Scrutinising the objectification of the female form, Dress interweaves histories of ‘embodiment’ and the theatricalisation of ‘the nude’ through a play on theatrical devices and the logic of the gallery.
Initially presented at Anna Schwartz Gallery in 1997 for Melbourne Fashion Festival, Dress is performed within a gallery setting in close proximity to the audience. The work was recently reactivated 22 years later for the exhibition Never the same river at Anna Schwartz Gallery. The performance of the work in 2019 prompted a response to the shifting relationship between the female body, representation, agency and the process of ageing.