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Translating visual art into movement

by Chloё Lalonde January 22, 2019
Translating visual art into movement

The ‘FOFA Gallery project’ unites students from all departments

Every year, undergraduate fine arts students are presented with the opportunity to participate in what they call the ‘FOFA Gallery project,’ otherwise known as USE, or Undergraduate Student Exhibition. The annual, year-long project gathers students from all fine arts departments, encouraging them to collaborate, learn and create in an interdisciplinary context.

The process begins with artist applications and a jury. Once selected, art history students, choreographers and dancers are paired with visual artists. From that point onward, they must respond to the piece they are working with. The final essays written by the art history students are then published in the exhibition catalogue, and the dancers perform their choreographer’s piece during two performance nights throughout the duration of the exhibition.

From the department of contemporary dance, Si Yu Lin has worked with dancer, Xdzunúm Trejo and artist Paule Gilberte, while Fia Grogono worked with dancer Eva Myers and artist Florence Tremblay. The process is not an easy one, as they must respect not only the artist’s piece, but the dancer’s body, needs and limitations.

Drawn to Gilberte’s paper installation by references to the human body, Lin chose to choreograph a performance that focuses on torsion and the idea of leaving a trace, referring back to Gilberte’s own manipulation of paper and her body. Origami will be performed by Trejo at the FOFA on Jan. 24 and Feb. 7 at 5 p.m

Grogono, on the other hand, is interested in the intimate activities that happen when no one is watching. Tremblay’s silkscreen prints depict snapshots of what looks like security camera footage, stripped apart and reassembled to create a new image. Her work aims to question identity and alienating factors that may alter it. From this, Grogono isolated moments of intense emotion to be performed by Myers in front of the FOFA virtrine between two panes of glass.

The movements in Insider are so absurd and extreme that, upon rehearsal, passersby stopped the performance to ask questions about the dancer’s sanity, thinking she was having a tantrum of sorts.

A gallery is a rather different setting for most of these performers, as they are typically held in dance studios or performance halls. “In the dance studio, we roll around, scream, express all sorts of wildness and it is supported and valued as important aspects of human expression,” explained Grogono, “but when we take this freedom out into the world, it is very apparent how heavily societal norms and expectations weigh, and how squashed and repressed ‘craziness’ is.” Working in an art gallery allows these artists to practice out of their comfort zones, seeking out and interacting with a new audience.

The ‘FOFA Gallery project,’ now titled Material Trace,“expresses the prevalent tendency in the selected artworks to give a physical form to ideas by collecting, recording, logging, documenting and archiving,” according to the gallery’s statement. Performance evenings will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, and the exhibition will be up at the FOFA Gallery until Feb. 22. Admission is free.

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