Avant-garde expressive & abstract dance
‘Feminine Futures’ exhibitions explore dance history in the feminine during the first half of the 20th century, unfolding new research perspectives with a corpus of rare or unpublished original photographs.
Feminine contributions to avant-garde movements are always underestimated. The strength of their critical, radical, constructive or destructive positions played a crucial role in the birth of performance as a new discipline, while men were still experimenting with traditional media such as painting and sculpture.
Beyond all the ‘isms’ initiated by male artists, female artists were creating their own avant-garde experiments as a reply to forces, mostly rooted in the psychology of desire and the reconstruction of a feminine mythology which conferred upon them the political power they had lost, having fewer rights than their ancestors centuries ago.
Inspired by early modern esotericism, antique geometric gestures, the liberation of the body and dance therapies, sometimes in the aftermath of expressionist theories, these pioneers of abstraction in dance are traced across the whole of Europe in the contexts of wars, exile, political resistance or in times of peace.
Dance would not have had this major impact on the history of art without the aesthetic contribution of a rare constellation of photographers specialising in what was already an unusual field. The conjunctions between dance and photography or dance and film created unique works of art. As the sensitivity of emulsions did not facilitate stage shots during performances, these creations took place in a studio framework.
Here, the dancers crystallised the quintessence of their inventiveness in a synthetic image, a compendium of theory and visual innovation which contributed to their reputation. In the highly competitive landscape of dance schools, public or ‘underground’ recitals, they had to forge their identity through the power of the image or face oblivion. The aspiration towards originality, autonomy and freedom gives a particular historical character to these works, embodying an inexhaustible source for future creativity.