In her choreography, performances and videos, she analyses the reciprocal influence of the use of gesture and movement in the consumer society (romcoms, TV soaps, video clips) and the “noble” arts (ballet, modern dance and performance art).
At the centre of this project is Diego Velàsquez' famous painting of “Venus at her Mirror” as an emblematic image of perfection. This piece is a complex choreography in which movement, observation and mirror images constitute conscious actions transposed from one dancing body to another. For less than an hour, the trio strives to deconstruct the systems of choreography by recycling the mechanisms of the so-called “conceptual” dance of the 1990s: we see dancers naming their steps as they execute them, bodies entwined to achieve “otherness”, and the use of pop songs that blend emotion and self-reflexion. But here, Alexandra Bachzetsis is more interested in the way we consume images and our declining ability to create a hierarchy between a real event and its screen image: to what should we give priority?
Commissioned by the Tate Modern in London, the Biennale de l'Image en Mouvement in Geneva, and the Jumex Foundation in Mexico City.
After the performance on 24 October, Alexandra Bachzetsis will be interviewed by Serge Laurent.
60 years of performance art in Switzerland museum Tinguely, 20.09.2017 - 28.01.2018
Colour video, soundless, 17', and A3 poster conceived by Julia Born
This Side Up is a powerful example of Bachzetsis' considerations on the movements of the body on the stage - movement is transferred onto the screen and finally translated as a printed "score."
PerformanceProcess Paris, Centre culturel suisse 18.09-13.12.15
Choreographer Alexandra Bachzetsis embarks on an introspective dance piece imbued with feminism. ...
Choreographer Alexandra Bachzetsis embarks on an introspective dance piece imbued with feminism.
A Piece Danced Alone, performed in 2011 in two successive versions—a stage version at the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris and an exhibition version at CAC Brétigny—paradoxically featured two dancers. Acting like a pair of mirrors, this piece aimed to make the unity of the subject illusory by exposing her ambivalence, her interchangeability, and perhaps even the schizophrenia of its creator and performer. The intrusion of postures relating to ballet suggested loss of originality in an exercise based on the notion of reproduction.
In her latest piece, From A to B via C, the choreographer returns to the same introspection, including her own initials: Alexandra Bachzetsis, in the impersonal system of the alphabet, perhaps to open the way to “C”, which expresses a paradigm shift towards a collective body or, as we will see, towards a hypothetical queer commitment on her part.
Acts of conversion from one field to another (from learning to performance), of translation from one regime to another (from writing to gesture), and of transcription from one practice to another (from sport to dance), are essential in her work. To quote queer terminology, these “transitionings” are experienced, for example, in From A to B via C around a central pivot formed by a tableau vivant inspired by Venus at her Mirror by Diego Vélasquez. Her ingenious adaptation has a fundamental characteristic, namely that she includes her own face as a reflection using not a mirror but live CCTV. The flat screen shows the face of the choreographer, presented as being adjustable to that of the supine dancer. Indifferent to gender, Cupid also has the features of the very “boyish” dancer Anne Pajunen. The system is entirely based on non-differentiation of the sexes; they become mere interchangeable roles, like those of the spectator, the dancer, or the choreographer.
Alexandra Bachzetsis' version of Venus at her Mirror presents a fragmented body subject to the laws of supply and demand, at the centre of a stage that becomes akin to a market stall. She mutilates the object of men's desire by showing a strong, athletic body, seen from the back, whose reflected face has female features. In this sense, the work is no doubt comparable to that of the famous suffragette Mary Richardson who, on 10 March 1914, carried out an iconoclastic feminist gesture at the National Gallery in London by vandalising Vélasquez's painting with a chopper. Mary Richardson wanted to draw attention to the issue of patriarchal oppression by attacking the way men would stare at the buttocks of the beautiful woman in the painting, whilst at the same moment the feminist activist Emmeline Pankhurst, whom she saw as one of the finest characters in modern history, was being sent to prison.
In her “Letters of Fire” published in 1914 in the feminist journal Dreadnought, Mary Richarson explained: “My hieroglyphic on the Velasquez Venus will express much to the generations of the future.”
We can only agree! Moreover, does the chopper brandished by Mary Richarson not echo the one used almost sixty years later, for the same feminist reasons, by the artist Martha Rosler, at the beginning of her career in 1975, in the video Semiotics of the Kitchen?
The écorché costumes used by Alexandra Bachzetsis for her dancers underline the awareness of a complete and almost obscene mobilisation of her own body and those of her performers. They also echo the narrow curtains that disappear, revealing the body in repose, in the exhibition version of A Piece Danced Alone.
Mary Richardson's lacerations and Alexandra Bachzetsis substitution of a queer body for that of Venus converge towards a quest for truth in that they re-embody, via an extreme sense of presence, figures that are otherwise fixed in the register of representation.
Pierre Bal-Blanc, art critic and freelance curator