Sally Smart: Danser Brut

17 March - 6 May 2023

Sarah Scout Presents is delighted to announce Sally Smart Danser Brut, an exhibition of painting, photography and textile that extends the artist’s exploration of dance in relation to modernist legacies and contemporary art. 

For almost three decades, Smart has been developing and articulating forms and language that reveal the intersections of dance, movement and pedagogy. This has included a major ongoing project, The Choreography of Cutting, that reframes and refigures the historical avant-garde dance company Ballets Russes and its experimental choreography, costume and theatre design, as well as The Artist’s Ballet, which comprises a multifaceted series of projects engaging 20th Century dance histories and choreographies of Pina Bausch and Martha Graham among others. While she often collaborates with contemporary dancers, including Brooke Stamp, Jo Lloyd, Lilian Steiner and Deanne Butterworth, the first assertion in Smart’s 2023 notebook on the work – which forms something of an artist's manifesto – states I am not a dancer

Smart’s notes define what she is in relation to dance. Note three, for example: I am interested in the psychological as the actions/movements manifested across multiple states – and particularly the unconscious. She gives examples of how this might manifest, and particularly telling are physical speed and orientation to the wall and ruptures and slippages of elements. Accidents. Note six clarifies her process: In art, adopting methodologies of dance – improvisation rehearsal and costume, both literally and conceptually.

Danser Brut, the movement, challenges traditional notions of what constitutes ‘proper’ dance, blurring the boundaries between dance and everyday life. Danser Brut, the exhibition, shares its title with a 2018 exhibition at LaM in Lille and a 2020 project at BOZAR in Brussels that sought to reveal the connections between dance and involuntary or repetitive movements. Certainly Smart encourages dancers to explore their own unique movements and gestures, however her choreographic instructions are clearly from a visual artist orientation, and the works presented in Smart’s Danser Brut highlight the repetition, the patterns, the bodily represented through psychic states.


Image: Sally Smart studio, 2023. Photo: Adrian Murphy.

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