SPA History / 2014 / Mouvement II / Artists

Performing the City : the artists

luciana achugar
The practice of the Uruguayan born, New York–based choreographer  (b. 1970) revolves around what it means to be in one's body, what the body is, and the question of what socially acceptable norms  govern it within Western society. achugar's FEELingpleasuresatisfactioncelebrationholyFORM (2012) consists of four nude women in oversized black wigs united by the choreographic challenge of putting on jeans without using their hands.
Her contribution to Le Mouvement is entitled The Pleasure Project (2014). Working with a group of dancers, achugar schedules a time and place for the performance to take place. Nothing seems to happen at the appointed time. But after a few moments, the dancers, who are planted in the audience, begin to make their performative presence felt by engaging in such activities as rubbing up against buildings and members of the audience.
Alexandra Bachzetsis
The Swiss artist, performer, and choreographer (b. 1974) is based in Basel. She explores extreme forms of movement in her work, and has a special interest in genres which follow particular codes, such as pole dancing, tecktonics, clubbing, asf.
Undressed (2005/2014), the performance Bachzetsis has carried out for Le Mouvement, is the only one her of works which creates an event on the basis of audience participation. Encountering an opening reception, the audience then moved into a courtyard to find music, a bar, an invitation to party. Gradually, some of "guests" started behaving in peculiar ways, and a curious exchange began to unfold, barely noticed, as if it were quite normal behavior.
Nina Beier
Far from confining herself to a single medium, the Danish artist N. Beier (b. 1975) plays with materials, images, perceptions and means of communication in order to unsettle opinions, challenge generally accepted ideas, and create subtle conceptual paradoxes.
For Le Mouvement, Beier has asked a retired professional dancer to improvise around all the choreographies she has learnt in the course of her career. An interplay between the intimate nature of the performance and its public context emerges as the dancer runs through her repertoire. Rendering the body's memory visible through movement, The Complete Works (2009/2014) proves to be a real story about the body and its physical and moral appearance.
Trisha Brown
The American, New York-based choreographer and dancer  (b. 1936)is one of the pioneers of American postmodern dance and a founding figure of the historic Judson Dance Theater, Brown has been key to the exploration and validation of the prosaic, pedestrian gestures associated with them both. She is also famous for taking these transient forms out of the theater and into the street.
The comparatively little known Drift (1974) builds directly on Brown's dancerly interrogations of the quotidian, while nevertheless remaining highly choreographic. In this work, a wall of five dancers, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, advance in what would seem to be a direct, straightforward progression.
Pablo Bronstein
The Argentinian artist Pablo Bronstein (b. 1977) moved with his family to London at a very young age, and is based there to this day. Drawing his inspiration from the 18th century, Bronstein uses a variety of media to explore Baroque and Neoclassical architecture and ornamentation.
For Le Mouvement, he presents Girl on a Late-19th-Century Swiss Balcony (2014), in which a dancer performs on the balcony of a classical façade overlooking Zentralplatz in Biel. The height and scale of the building mean that the audience can see only a little of the dancers' movements, which at once harmonize with the architecture of the building and at the same time make a sharp contrast with 21st century Biel.

Eglè Budvytytè
The Lithuanian artist (b. 1981) is based in Amsterdam, and works in a variety of media including video, radio and performance. She is interested in gestures that might challenge the unspoken codes and conventions that govern the everyday.
Running Male (2012/2014) interrogates Western conventions of masculinity and considers how, in Judith Butler's terms, gender is socially conditioned and performed. This itinerant work features nine male performers clad in uniforms that are both military and effeminate, jogging through the city while performing a series of actions.

Willi Dorner

The Austrian choreographer, curator, and video artist (b. 1959) formed the Willi Dorner Company in 1999. His practice addresses the sculptural qualities of bodies singly and together in everyday settings, both interior and urban, which are temporarily transformed through his interventions.

Bodies in Urban Spaces (2007), is a classic in his repertoire. In this ever evolving exploration of the urban fabric, Dorner's dancers map out a route through a zone of a given city, and break into small groups to make sculptural pit stops as they go. One group blocks a passage by piling on top of each other in a doorway to make a human wall, while another takes over a park bench by crowding on to it with an expertise that allows it to attain the previously unsuspected status of a sculptural pedestal.

Douglas Dunn
The American choreographer Douglas Dunn (b. 1942), who is based in New York, has had quite a trajectory as an artist. He started his own company in 1976, and has since presented dances in innumerable venues around the world.
For Le Mouvement, Dunn and his company perform the street piece Vain Combat (2010), “an ode to cross-purposes," in Dunn's words, from the jostlings of the urban crowd to military killing machines. This piece draws on contact improvisation (body to body) and other postmodern dance techniques to orchestrate a complex, and sometimes improbably balletic choreographed encounter between his dancers in urban space.

Simone Forti
Born in Italy, the Los Angeles-based choreographer  (b. 1935) studied alongside Trisha Brown and Yvonne Rainer with Anna Halprin in the 1950s, and developped her radical methods of improvisation.
Huddle (1961) is governed both by a single choreographic principle and by chance. A group of dancers huddles together to form a close-knit mass, from which one breaks out to climb over the rest. The group moves in a kind of drift in an effort to maintain its structural integrity while supporting the weight of the dancer scaling it.

Alicia Frankovich
The practice of the New Zealand and Berlin based artist is primarily concerned with performance and the extent to which it is part of the fabric of everyday life. She is interested in the choreography of social mechanisms, collectivity and co-existence, and post-Fordist labor practices. Her work investigates the ways in which bodies, store, express, and are colonized by these mechanisms and practices.
For Le Mouvement, she has choreographed Sisyphus Now (2014). Featuring six performers, both professional dancers and amateurs dressed in whatever they would normally wear for work, the performance takes place on the station platform, a space of before and after work. Here in the transitional space of the railway station, the performers combine their everyday working gestures with team building exercises to produce a complex and repetitive piece of choreography.
Maria Hassabi
The Greek, New York-based choreographer (b. 1973) she is a virtuoso of velocity. This is not the velocity of speed and acceleration, but rather one of deceleration. Dancing so slowly that their movements can barely be perceived, her work reveals the body at its most vulnerable, perhaps even in its most unnatural state.
SHOW (2011) is a duet featuring Hassabi and the dancer Hristoula Harakas, a complex game of cat and mouse in which their bodies seem to want to come together but never actually touch. Working close to the ground, their movements assume an uncannily sculptural quality as they negotiate the twists and turns of Hassabi's highly plastic choreography.

San Keller
Since the late 1990s, the Swiss, Zurich-based artist (b. 1971) has developed a reputation for actions, which are made with serious intent but are also staged with a light and ironic touch.
"Every work of art is an uncommitted crime," in the words of Theodor Adorno. That artistic – and also legal – boundaries should be broken is by now a commonplace, almost quaint claim from another era.  San Keller's SCHAUPROZESS (2014) demonstrates the contradictions at work in the reception of contemporary art today.

The Swiss artists Jörg Köppl (b. 1964) and Peter Začek (b. 1962) have worked together since 1997. Their multidisciplinary approach combines various media including audio, video, sculpture, installation, and performances in which they are often active participants themselves.
For Le Mouvement, Köppl/Začek have developed a new performance entitled Drei Kreise (2014) in which three different social groups walk 24 hours a day in circles mapped out in the city of Biel/Bienne. Each circle is represented by a particular group (artists, prostitutes, asylum seekers), who walk in shifts for 72 hours.

Jiří Kovanda
The Czech artist (b. 1953) is based in Prague, where he began to be noticed in the 1970s. Once regarded as an amateur, Kovanda has become known for these invariably discreet, subtle, and conceptual gestures, which create no objects but instead exploit the natural contours and found elements of his environment.
Kissing Through Glass (2007), pursues the artist's aesthetic strategy of extreme economy, but also requires the collusion of a participating audience. Again exploiting the given fabric of the urban environment, Kovanda waits on one side of a window pane and offers to share a kiss through the glass with anyone who passes by.

Germaine Kruip
The work of the Dutch, Brussels-based artist (b. 1970) is varied and complex. She sets off fireworks, erects observation platforms, plays with light and shadows, makes kinetic sculptures, and reenacts performances.
To create A Possibility of an Abstraction: Circle Dance (2012), Kruip works with dervishes for whom the ecstatic circle dance is a physical means of falling into religious ecstasy. Instead of wearing their traditional clothes and hats, these dervishes are dressed in simple dark suits and white shirts. It is difficult for passersby to make sense of such an improbable sight.
Liz Magic Laser
The performative practice of the New York-based artist (b. 1981) engages with the linguistic, gestural, and theatrical codes and mechanisms that underpin communication in the media, political theater, and the everyday. Subjecting these codes to analysis or historical deconstruction, Laser examines how they function, even below the threshold of awareness.
Like You (2014) is a work which embodies and explores these concerns in a prosaic form. Inspired by Oliver Sacks' account of a woman with Tourette's Syndrome, as well as by Bertolt Brecht's reflections on the importance of spontaneity for effective theater, Laser works with one of the oldest and most provocative forms of street theater: mime. She has invited dancer Cori Kresge to develop a method of mimicking the ways in which unsuspecting passersby carry themselves on the streets of Biel.

Myriam Lefkowitz
Originally a dancer and choreographer, the past few years have seen the French-American, Paris-based artist (b. 1980) increasingly engaged with the world of contemporary art. Her work has been largely focused on the relationship between movement and the gaze, or lack thereof, which manifests itself in the ongoing investigations she makes in Walk, Hands, Eyes (Biel/Bienne) (2014). In this work, the so-called 'viewer' makes an appointment with a performer at a given location. When they meet, the performer asks the viewer, or rather the 'perceiver', to shut their eyes for the duration of the one-hour performance, briefly opening them only at the performer's behest.

Jérôme Leuba
Since 2004 Jérôme Leuba (b. 1970), living in Geneva, has been making a series of works called battlefield which he produces in a variety of media. Often described as being living sculptures, Leuba's works feature men and women in clearly recognizable locations.
For Le Mouvement, Leuba presents battlefield #95 / gaze (2014). This new performance places three women and three men on the same street in Biel. With their backs to a wall, the performers stare silently at people passing by. The intensity of their gaze displaces the object of the performance, which passes from the performers to the passersby.

Ieva Miseviciūtè
The New York-based artist and performer (b. 1982) describes herself as “a former Lithuanian clown, and a practitioner of unproductive gymnastics."
For Le Mouvement, the artist presents a performance entitled SSSSSSSSSSSS (2014), a solo which she herself performs. In the belief that the public space is part of a living whole, a social organism built of material substances and all sorts and combinations of structures, the performer projects these relationships and rhythms on to her body and so makes an immediate transformation of its environment. The work has a lexicon of movement based on the idea that each of the body's points is the nib of a pen dipped in poison, which draws caricatures of the performer's immediate environment.
Alexandra Pirici
Trained as a choreographer, Bucharest-based artist Alexandra Pirici (b. 1981) works more and more in the world of contemporary art.
Her contribution to Le Mouvement is inspired by the controversial placement of Richard Serra's Tilted Arc in 1981 in  New York, and its subsequent removal by public demand, Piricis Tilted Arc (2014) reconstructs the sculpture in order to articulate her interests in the physical presence of matter in space. The use of the human body gives the sculpture a performative quality which makes it far more flexible, modifiable, and negotiable than its predecessor.
Prinz Gholam
The Berlin-based duo Prinz Gholam consists of the German artist Wolfgang Prinz (b. 1969) and the Beirut-born artist Michel Gholam (b. 1963). Working together since 2001, they have developed a performative practice involving actions reminiscent of tableaux vivants to represent the visual unconscious and the vast archive of images it contains.
In the work they present for Le Mouvement, Prinz Gholam pursue these interests on a broader footing. Entitled Nastagio's Itinerary (2014), after Bottecelli's Nastagio degli Onesti (1483), and the eponymous tale in Bocaccio's Decameron, the work builds upon the curse of repetition at the center of the tale. Interrogating the nature of performance, and where it begins and ends, Prinz Gholam have declared the entire six days they will spend in Biel.
Lin Yilin
The Chinese artist Lin Yilin (b. 1964) is based in Beijing and New York. He has been a key figure in China's recent endeavors to increase its international profile in the world of contemporary art.
Entitled The Departure From Her Feet (2014), the work sees the artist rolling from three different sites in Biel towards the town hall, where he stops.  In this physically challenging and potentially dangerous work Yilin uses public space in a way that would normally lead to a loss of any real right to it: by rolling on the ground.