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Isa Rosenberger

Grazer Kunstverein

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Isa Rosenberger, „Espiral“, 2011

Isa Rosenberger, ‘Espiral’, 2011

Isa Rosenberger’s exhibition ‘Espiral’ addressed responsibility for neocolonial trade strategies and flirted with the possibility of expressing criticism through dance. To this end, Rosenberger showed three video fragments based on her film Espiral 2010 (Spiral, 2010), each installed in a stage-like scenario. The thematic frame for the exhibition was provided by a reinterpretation of Kurt Jooss’ ballet Der grüne Tisch (The Green Table, 1932). In the original, Death dances self-assuredly around a succession of powerless protagonists who, like politicians or gamblers, gather around a green table again and again.

Here, the role of death was performed by the Chilean dancer Amanda Piña, who features in all three videos which were shown separately. In the first part of Rosenberger’s trilogy, the viewer witnesses an intimate rehearsal situation in which the dancer runs through the choreography in front of a video projection of a historical performance of the work. The discrepancy between the two versions – and the performer’s worried glances over her shoulder at the model for her own part – evoked the fundamental dilemma of adopting and maintaining a role. The spiral became a symbol of historical appropriation and repetition.

In the open area at the centre of the show stood a foreshortened green table inspired by Jooss’ original stage set. In the projection of the main film behind the table, Piña performs her dance of death in front of the National Bank of Austria. The subtitles quote euphoric statements on the expansion of Austrian banks into south-east Europe. Additional matter-of-fact text inserts recount the consequences of this expansion in the following years of economic and financial crisis. Archival material from the 1930s also inserted by Rosenberger appears to fit seamlessly with the disastrous developments of the recent past.

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Isa Rosenberger, „Espiral“, 2011

Isa Rosenberger, „Espiral“, 2011

While this central arrangement recalled a stage, the screened-off section behind was designed as a kind of backstage area, where a third video work showed a relaxed conversation between Rosenberger and Piña while the artist applies the dancer’s make-up for the part. Here, we find out that Piña did her dance training at a school founded by Jooss in Santiago de Chile – under the name Espiral. Once again, the spiral emerged here as the organizing principle of the exhibition. Beyond all of its other meanings – the giddy plunge of the banking crisis, the looping of history, the reuse of historical material or even of one’s own past works – this spiral was also to be understood as a kind of call to express critical ideas over and over again.

As a result, ‘Espiral’ offered a striking mise en scène within which dance was interpreted as critical movement capable of overcoming established patterns in society. This critical tendency could not be pinned down in more precise terms, however, as the geometric figure of the spiral, although circular, always remains open-ended.
Übersetzt von Nicholas Grindell

Issue 2

First published in Issue 2

Autumn 2011
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