Grave Dancing Test #5 (2010) and On White Off White (1976): Film and the Other Arts: Creative Dialogues in the Avant-Garde. Performing Gesture

George Saxon (Artist), Tanya Syed (Programmer), Kim Knowles (Programmer)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


Film and the Other Arts: Creative Dialogues in the Avant-Garde.
George Saxon's films, Grave Dancing Test #5 and On White Off White programmed as part Performing Gesture at Edinburgh Filmhouse. This strand of cross-disciplinary investigation brings together the classic and the rare, focusing on the poetic charge of bodily movement and gesture. Tis programme was shown as part of a season of avant-garde films exploring the diverse ways in which cinema dialogues with other of art forms. The season is part of the two-year Research Network Film and the Other Arts: Intermediality, Medium Specificity, Creativity based at the University of Edinburgh and Aberystwyth University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The programme emerges as an exercise in archival mapping, combining the historical and the contemporary, the rare and the classic, to reveal new connections across the history of avant-garde filmmaking. In Performing Gesture there is a cross-disciplinary investigation, where the selection of works focus on the emotional charge of bodily movement and gesture. Ritualistic actions unravel through repetition and duplication. Curated by Tanya Syed and Kim Knowles.

Grave Dancing Test #5, triple screen digital video
This work explores physical defiance of illness, as a series of durational  dances, choreographed to an audio track and repeatedly performed for the duration of an hour of digital video. The concerns in the work, stem from long bouts of childhood illness and time spent bed-ridden.  At available opportunities I would test myself with extreme physical activity, dancing to music, until finally I was exhausted and the condition would seize my body. These dancing marathons pervaded throughout my childhood and later life. They were relentless physical performances, a private kinetic activity that became a strategy that was employed in defiance of the effects of illness. The title itself refers to that of ‘outliving’ the other, or in this case, outliving and defying the ‘illness’.
The final realisation of this work is a triptych of dances (recorded consecutively), appearing simultaneously to be in competition with each other. The ‘dance floor’ choreography, together with the constructed audio score attempts the synchronisation movements throughout. *
* Password protected (restricted), can be obtained from George Saxon:

On White Off White, double screen digital video, from original twin screen 16mm film.
Two clockwork 16mm cameras, positioned at slightly different angles; delineating two areas of floor space, overlapping to produce a central Rorschach effect - the body of the performer rolls into shot - slow writhing on the floor.
I was interested in the vocabulary of ‘white’ through the duration of aleatory activity in time and space. This is the first film. The white page, the white surface, invites a human activity, an intervention . The random details of textures of surfaces that were later exposed through making brass rubbings, the traces left by human touch and contact, the dust, the marks, footprints, fingerprints – a mirrored forensic to be used later as evidence and signs that “I was here”. *
* Password protected (restricted). Password: Grave
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2017


  • film, avant-garde
  • DanceFilm


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