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Moving Bodies, Moving Images

12 October 2022 to 9 January 2023 Whitechapel Gallery

Image ©
Moving Bodies, Moving Images brings together a selection of short films made in the last decade by contemporary artists exploring the intersection of dance, choreography and moving image. The participating artists are, Alexandra BachzetsisPauline Boudry / Renate LorenzEglė Budvytytė, Eric Minh Cuong CastaingAlia FaridHetain PatelBárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, and Alberta Whittle.

Presented across a range of projections and screens dispersed throughout the galleries, these moving image works focus on performing bodies and unfold as both individual works but also as collective storytelling, exploring topics, ranging from gender politics and desire to bodily memory, resistance, personal healing and collective identities.

The first section of the exhibition brings together works that focus on the body, how it performs in man-made environments, such as the street or the club, and other spaces shaped by vernacular cultures. An Ideal for Living (2018) by Alexandra Bachzetsis focuses on the seemingly indifferent behaviour of a pair of androgynous adolescents in a gymnasium and explores whether gestures can be invented or whether they are based on a pregiven repertoire of movements.

Premiering a new work, Les Gayrillères (2022), the collaborative artist duo Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz explores the political force of performance in the dark spaces of the night club, the cruising zone or underground meeting place.

Hétain Patel ’s film Trinity (2021) explores language and physical communication and combines Kathak dance and martial arts, culminating in a fight scene in which a seemingly universal language mixing sign language. Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, who typically collaborate with non-actors for their projects, explore frevo, a dance and musical style originating from Recife, Brazil as part of the Carnival.

The second half of the exhibition explores the relationship between the human body and the landscape.

On display is Songs from the Compost: mutating bodies, imploding stars (2020) by Eglé Budvytyté.  Filmed in the lichen forest and sand dunes of the Curonian Spit in Lithuania, the film depicts bodies moving among each other in proximity, and draws on biological theory and science fiction, considering the necessity of intertwined networks between human and non-human beings for nurturing relationships between species.

Alia Farid’s work At the time of the Ebb (2019) foregrounds several residents on the Iranian island of Qeshm during the celebration of Nowruz Sayadeen (Fisherman’s New Year). Their performances draw attention to local customs and traditions, material surroundings and the natural environment of an island located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. a strategic passage for the global trade in oil.  

Eric Minh Cuong Castaing combines dance, imagery, sounds and objects to explore the experience of fragility, loss of mobility and the importance of gestures to connect and communicate with others.

At Whitechapel Gallery, two films from Form(s) of Life (2021), a project involving palliative care patients with degenerative illness, feature a dancer and a boxer who work with performers to regain some of their former movement. Filmed outdoors, the protagonists use the landscape as a setting in which to recreate slow and intentional movements.

In 2020, Alberta Whittle made works in response to the pandemic, lockdown and the Black Lives Matter movement. Filmed in Scotland, South Africa and Barbados, RESET (2020) is a polyphonic journey, which collages together the voices of writers, performers, and musicians. One of the central figures, choreographer and performer Mele Broomes is pictured draped in a costume of seagrass and shells as she dances in a sparse domestic interior and through the landscaped grounds of a British stately home, reclaiming space usually associated with whiteness and privilege. Whittle connects fears of contagion, moral dilemma and xenophobia and urges the audience to become active rather than passive spectators by calling for healing, rest and community at a time of inequality.

Also on display are materials related to the making of the films, including production stills, research, reference texts and scores.

Moving Bodies, Moving Images
12 October 2022 – 9 January 2023
Galleries 1, 8 & 9

Further Information: Whitechapel Gallery presents Moving Bodies, Moving Images - Whitechapel Gallery