Sally Smart is one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, renowned for producing large-scale cut-out assemblage installations and more recently combining performance and video. Her practice engages identity politics and the relationships between the body, thought and culture. The Choreography of Cutting is a major ongoing project that reframes and refigures the historical avant-garde dance company, the Ballets Russes, and its experimental choreography, costume and theatre design as well as its legacies. Smart not only reiterates the Ballet Russes, she recasts it through a distinctly feminist lens, insinuating Hannah Höch as central protagonist, and Martha Graham and Pina Bausch as natural successors. Alongside these intricate backdrops and embroideries, Smart creates large-scale blackboard drawings that give form to her studio processes of thinking, mapping and planning through diagrams and notations. These works derive from Smart’s research into the European modern dance pioneer Rudolf Laban and his connections to the philosopher Rudolf Steiner, who used both blackboard dissertations and puppets in the pedagogical process. Smart maps multiple ideas, temporalities and space to create a dynamic materialisation of thought, gesture and action and in so doing, she reimagines and embodies a vigorous discourse between the historical and contemporary avant-gardes.
SALLY SMART completed a Master of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1991 and is currently a Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne. She was awarded an Australia Council Fellowship (2014) and Sackler Fellow Artist-in Residence, University of Connecticut, USA (2012). Her major public art commission Shadow Trees was installed in Docklands, Melbourne (2014). Recent exhibitions include: Staging the Studio (The Choreography of Cutting), Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Melbourne (2017); The Choreography of Cutting, Postmasters Gallery, New York (2016); Odyssey: Navigating Nameless Seas, Singapore Art Museum (2016); Conversation: Endless Acts of Human History (with Entang Wiharso), Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta (2016); Six Degrees of Separation, Galeri Canna, Jakarta (2015); Dark Heart: 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2014); Negotiating This World, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2013); The Pedagogical Puppet, University of Connecticut, CT., USA (2012); Contemporary Australia: Women, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane, Australia and No Name Station, Iberia Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China. Smart is represented in significant public and private collections including: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; GOMA/Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; The University of Melbourne Art Collection, Melbourne; Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY, USA; The William Benton Museum of Art Connecticut’s State Art Museum, USA; British Museum, London, UK; Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany; and the International Collage Center, Pennsylvania USA.