Sally Smart: The Choreography of Cutting

10 March - 15 April 2017

A solo exhibition by esteemed Australian artist Sally Smart, The Choreography of Cutting is part of a major ongoing project that reframes and refigures the historical avant-garde dance company Ballets Russes and its experimental choreography, costume and theatre design as well as its legacies. In this latest iteration, Smart premieres remarkable new assemblage embroidery works, fabricated by artisans at DGTMB Art Embroidery in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from her digitally cutting up images of the costumes designed for the Ballets Russes by key early modernist artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Sonia Delaunay among others.


The Choreography of Cutting also includes 'The Pedagogical Puppet', which involved Smart working with a group of puppeteers at the University of Connecticut to produce a marionette of herself, together with a new large-scale blackboard drawing, giving 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.


However, Smart not only reiterates the Ballet Russes, she recasts it through a distinctly feminist lens, insinuating Hannah Höch as central protagonist in a suite of large-scale collage works, and Martha Graham and Pina Bausch as natural successors. 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.

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