Ballet-performing normality in the face of crisis
Clausen, S. (2011) Ballet-performing normality in the face of crisis. The International Journal of the Image, 1 (Issue 2). pp. 157-178. ISSN 2152-7857
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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.