Ballet-Performing Normality in the Face of Crisis

By Susanne Clausen.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper contextualises the framework and methodology for producing the video performance Ballet, by Szuper Gallery (Susanne Clausen & Pavlo Kerestey), which was initiated through an encounter with an archive of rural information and propaganda films from the Museum of English Rural Life [MERL] in Reading, UK. This project looked at ways of extrapolating filmed gestures from the MERL films to choreograph a large-scale performance film and to consider how this practice-led research could instigate a new way of engaging with and interpreting the MERL film collection. The resulting video was produced in 2009 and was first exhibited at MERL, where it became part of the archive. This was followed by a series of international screenings. I will set out the surrounding research in and around the archive propaganda films, focusing on the performances by rural extras (background actors) in these films, while looking at the way one could understand the relation between a future-past, or tradition and accident in these films (Massumi, 1993). I will pair this with a reflection on the cultural reading of the extras (Didi-Huberman, 2009) and the notion of social choreography (Hewitt, 2005) in this context. I will then lay out reflections on artistic methods for the final performance, a Crash Choreography, based on calculated, but spontaneous encounters.

Keywords: Filmed Performance, Rural Propaganda Films, Museum of English Rural Life, Social Choreography

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.157-178. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.190MB).

Susanne Clausen

Reader, Department of Fine Art, University of Reading, Reading, UK

Susanne Clausen works and publishes continuously under the artist name Szuper Gallery, often in co-operation with the artist Pavlo Kerestey. She is a Reader in Contemporary Fine Art at the University of Reading, UK. Her current practice and related research engages with filmed and live performances, multi-media installations and interactive interventions, incorporating new uses of performative and interactive media practices and text. Based on the principle of crash choreography, the performances are driven by image, sound, gesture, and speech. In these works the performance and the installation are a site for post and meta-production in which the stream of film and performance images are crash choreographed into a critical sphere. Installations resonate theatrical film sets and stages, where the development of the work can be experienced. Performers and actors are directed within these sets, enacting texts and movements, thereby generating a structure of social, cultural and political references within the work.