Grave Dancing Test #5 (2010) and On White Off White (1976): Performing Gesture at Live Archive. Vivid Projects

George Saxon (Artist), Tanya Syed (Programmer), Yasmeen Baig-Clifford (Artist)

Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchExhibition


Tanya Syed gives an in depth introduction to the programme of work: Performing Gesture. This program traces a chronology of gesture, dance and performance to camera spanning from 1946 to 2010. From the ‘dreambody' of Deren’s Ritual in Transfigured Time to the physical endurance of Saxon’s Grave Dancing, ritualised actions amplify through repetition and duplication. Dance emerges as an act of survival and of transmission. As the mobile camera optimises dynamic relational engagement, the still camera fixates over this shimmering confluence that is the human form on film. Films originating on Super 8, 16mm black & white and digital, shift from the improvised, the choreographed, the staged and the incidental. TS
The screening of films include works by, Maya Deren; Joelle Bouvier & Regis Obadia; Nicola Baldwin; Tanya Syed.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018

Additional Information

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”.


  • film
  • DanceFilm
  • avant-garde


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