Index // People Projects Recent Publications Events & Symposia

30th of March 2017 | Kaaitheater | Entrance is free, but registration in advance is recommended via |


Introduction – Imaging Fuller: Mapping a Visual Legacy

Following the various innovations Loïe Fuller inaugurated in terms of choreographic movement, theatre technology, costume, and body concept, we know Fuller today thanks to a wide circulation of images that depict her enigmatic appearances. As such, these images capture some of the magic she and her practice represent. In this introduction, Timmy De Laet and Nele Wynants will briefly discuss some of the most iconic pictures of Fuller in order to demonstrate how they have influenced the collective memory regarding this significant choreographer, who is primarily known as a pioneer of early modern dance, but whose impact extends far beyond the history of dance. This brief journey through the visual legacy of Loïe Fuller will raise several crucial questions on historical distance and the time that is said to separate the present from the past, an issue that also contemporary artists are increasingly dealing with by revisiting her choreographic heritage. By untangling these stakes, this introduction will set the framework for the lectures and talks during this Salon XL.

14:30 STAF VOS
Loïe Fuller as muse: icon or agent?

Loïe Fuller has mainly been known and appreciated through (her impact on) the work of writers, visual artists and other performers, who created her iconic status as ‘the symbolist dancer’, ‘the art nouveau dancer’, ‘Fairy Electricity’ or even ‘the (earliest) futurist dancer’. Can we reduce the value of the ‘muse’ to the appreciation of the artists she inspired? Artists who, literally or metaphorically, objectified and instrumentalised the dancer and her work to support their own ideals. Moreover, their (and our) judgment was (is) almost exclusively based on Fuller’s early solo work in which she used her body, technology and fabric to create a radically new performance practice. In my talk, I will contrast the influential concept of the dancer as voiceless ‘romantic image’ (F. Kermode) with Fuller’s own writings. I will focus on the hybridity of Fuller’s aesthetics and her agency as artistic and discursive entrepreneur to continually reinvent herself throughout her career. I will do this in relation to the ideas and practices advanced by Fuller’s rival, Isadora Duncan. What do their very different reception histories teach us about the way we deal with the dance historical past? 


Ola Maciejewska will show a solo fragment from Bombyx Mori, a piece for which she drew her inspiration from Fuller’s Serpentine Dance. By creating movement in large pieces of fabric, she explores tensions between nature and culture, between body and object. Bombyx Mori alludes to the silk caterpillar, which has become entirely dependent on human beings for survival. Here, the natural body and the artificial process are inextricably linked: a poignant metaphor for this sculptural interpretation of one of the pioneers of modern dance and performance art.


16:00 PAUZE

Reenacting Modernist Time: William Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time

In The Refusal of Time (2012), South African artist William Kentridge reveals how the Western time regime is a central tenant of modernity, capitalism, and colonialism. Featuring a remarkable reenactment of the famous Serpentine Dance of Loïe Fuller, this multimedia installation also provides a sharp comment on the Western conception of dance history. In having this iconic Serpentine Dance reenacted by Dada Masilo, a dancer of color, Kentridge questions the white supremacy in the official history of dance. Moreover, having the film sequence of the dance solo shown backward, that is time reversed, the images also dismantle the modernist, chronological conception of time and history. This critical reenactment, like the dancing figures in the closing parade of The Refusal of Time, in fact reveal the modernist desire to reenact history along a chronological timeline. Connecting Kentridge’s The Refusal of Time with Deleuze’s onto-aesthetics, I discuss in this lecture how reenactment can articulate an ontological politics of time and movement. In doing so, I provide a philosophical-historical perspective on the notion of reenactment by unfolding its critical potential. 


In CAEN AMOUR, Trajal Harrell brings together Loïe Fuller, Japanese choreographer Tatsumi Hijikata (known as one of the founders of butoh) and fashion designer Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) in a contemporary hoochie koochie spectacle. Harrell is interested in the agency and politics of female performers, like Fuller and the first hoochie koochie dancers, who traveled internationally to present their acts at the intersection of popular entertainment, erotic shows and early experiments in modern dance, at a moment when dance was not yet established as an art form. This conversation will address some of the aspects of Fuller’s work explored in the context of CAEN AMOUR, including her orientalism and her experiments with elaborate costumes, as strategies to fashion her identity as an artist. Drawing on Fuller in resonance with the other iconic figures on the 'fictional map' that informs the performance, CAEN AMOUR challenges the one-dimensional image of the muse, the (exotic) other and the (female) nude, by playing on the constructed-ness of images and the performativity of identity.


Built and designed by indianen.