Until Sunday 2 September
First floor galleryhttps://www.dlwp.com/exhibi...
On Sunday 6 May, the De La Warr Pavilion presented RITE: on this pliant body we slip our WOW!, an extraordinary and powerful performance devised and choreographed by Florence Peake, presented by a host of dancers who performed in six tonnes of wet clay.
RITE reinterprets a monumental moment in modernism’s history: Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky. This notorious production provoked riots when it opened in 1913.
The mound of clay that remains in the gallery, moulded by the dancers as they moved, will be the centrepiece of a new exhibition by Peake featuring a painted frieze encircling the gallery walls and a soundtrack by Beatrice Dillon made from audio recordings of Peake handling the clay.
For the painted frieze, Peake collaborated with the Pavilion’s workers – people who interact with a modernist architectural icon almost every day – drawing outlines of their bodies as they move to the music in a series of private sessions. Inspired by iconic methods of depicting historic scenes in classical and medieval friezes and tapestries, the wall-paintings abstract the rite of spring through movement, drawing, paint and plaster.
Accompanying the frieze and the clay bed is a film in which dancer Rosemary Lee performs a piece choreographed by Peake and filmed by Becky Edmunds.
Drawing on the The Rite Of Spring’s rich legacy, RITE reclaims triumphant physicality as political statement– presenting the primal body as a powerful force in the struggle for change.
RITE is almost camp in its accumulation of references. Classical sculpture, a dance history spanning from Isadora Duncan to Xavier Le Roy, and the brutally sensorial performances of Carolee Schneemann and Hermann Nitsch all resonate with Peake’s ambitious project. Informed also by feminist theory, Peake draws on this rich cultural legacy to reclaim triumphant physicality as political statement. She presents the body as primal, visceral, erotic – impervious, in the artist’s own words, to “neo-fascist normalization”: in this way, her approach is a form of protest. She says, “RITE rejects post-modern cynicism. It is a bodily affirmation that in the current political climate, blasé detachment is no longer an option.
Peake has worked closely with a host of dancers, Iris Chan, Katye Coe, Antonio De La Fe, Samuel Kennedy and Susanna Recchia, applying to visual art collaborative strategies more usually associated with dance and theatre. At RITE’s core is a drive to expand the relationship between movement and material, a concern that has informed the artist’s practice for over a decade
Research on RITE was generously supported by the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project 2016-17 with partners Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Cambridge Junction, Dance4, Greenwich Dance, LIFT, London College of Fashion, Sadler’s Wells, Site Gallery, Tintype Gallery and by public funding through Arts Council England. It was developed through residencies at Somerset House Studios, Site Gallery and Cass Sculpture Foundation in partnership with West Dean College and through a solo show at Studio Leigh.
RITE: On this pliant body we slip our WOW! is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.