Staged? and Staging
Artist. Maria Hassabi
Organisations. Kunstenfestivaldesarts, The Kitchen, Walker Art Centre
Maria Hassabi – b. Cyprus. Lives and works New York, USA.
Hassabi is a choreographer and dancer with a distinct choreographic practice which interrelates the body to the image. Her work explores sculptural physicality and duration, drawing strength from the tension between the human subject and the artistic object – the dancer as a performer and as a physical entity.
Staged? (2016) explored the expectations of viewership, addressing the way that dance and the spectacle of performance are presented within the black-box theatre space. The work explored duration – it took time to unfold and asked the viewer to take time with it. Hassabi employed slowness and stillness as techniques in a choreography that oscillated between dance and sculpture, subject and object, the live body and the still image. In Staged? the audience surrounded four performers as they were entangled on the floor in a tense, colourful pile of bodies on a vivid pink carpet. Underneath a sculpture of burning spotlights, the performers passed over and through each other, they formed an amorphous mass that changed through the accumulation of their sustained movements and created a surreal theatre intensity.
Staging (2017) formed the second part of this performative diptych. Staging shared the vivid pink carpet, the light and sound installations with Staged? but existed as a distinct and separate entity. Staging was presented in white-cube, exhibition contexts and destabilised the codes and relationships inherent in these institutional settings. While Staged? had a set duration Staging formed a loop, its duration determined by the venues’ opening and closing hours. Staging unfolded as a progression of encounters and existed in multiple sites throughout the building. The work was viewed in parts where the accumulation of bodies, colours, light, sound and architecture acted as reminders of the multiple, fractured nature of an event that is continually progressing – always Staging. It perhaps finds completion in the Staged? theactrical form.
The Keir Foundation is delighted to have supported the development and presentation of this work.