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Exhibition Focus: Alice Anderson’s ‘Body Disruptions’, Waddington Custot

ViewZine Admin
Exhibition Focus: Alice Anderson’s ‘Body Disruptions’, Waddington Custot

Hovering like primal presences in the middle of Waddington Custot’s main gallery are the distinctive and captivating works by Alice Anderson which form part of a solo show entitled Body Disruptions featuring sculptures and drawings from solo and collective performances.  The show will include performances of Anderson’s new and unseen work, Transitional Dances (2019), for which she will be joined by performers and drummers.

These monolithic sculptures are part of an ongoing series entitled Body Itineraries (2019) in which the woven patterned surfaces are made by orbiting a square object with copper-coloured wire at alternating speeds and with different movements. Each motif corresponds to a change of direction that has happened to release body tension or pain. Anderson’s square sculptures are like sacred surfaces in which time and space have been inscribed through the meditative movements of her performances. 

Anderson investigates the development of technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence to improve and perfect our human capabilities, and celebrates body weaknesses and brain failures as a reminder of what makes us human.  Her works are created with copper-coloured wire, a material which permeates Anderson’s oeuvre as a reference to the connectivity of the digital world.  Elemental Copper this versatile conductor weaving through our high-speed electronic life is here transformed into a different form of communication through the medium of performance and ritual. 

Anderson’s sculptures are often weaved around objects and architecture in what she terms ‘memorisation’ to describe the tracing of memory circuits around objects using wire in a meditative ritual.  The challenges that technologies present for humanity has directed Anderson’s research to the culture of the Indiens Kogi, a community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, which celebrates humanity and nature through ancestral rituals.  On display in a separate gallery space are five totems from the performative sculpture ‘Nuhé’ (2018), which has been woven over several collective performances to reach the total 21 structural elements of a nuhé, a temple and political gathering place for the Kogi community.  In the ‘memorisation’ of ‘Nuhé’, performers each travelled around one of the two-metre high columns with copper-coloured wire recording the marks of their bodies’ disruptions. In collectively crystallising the architectural elements, they experience an intimate knowledge of the physical object through their human body, while participating in a communal ritual that reflects the social bond of the group that built it. 

Rhythm and ritual is also at the heart of the Lost Gestures (2018) drawing series, made from the repetitive sign-making of crayon on paper of various computer keyboard symbols such as the hashtag, double slash, and parentheses. The obsessive repetition of the digital signs drawn by Anderson generates an audible and visual rhythm drawn at an increasing speed, which in time causes the gesture to be ‘lost’. Whenever the gesture is ‘lost’ (when an error occurs and produces a different motif) Anderson signifies this change by adding a new colour.  The rhythmic sound of the crayon repeatedly striking the surface of the paper initiates a dance performed by Ino Riga whose improvised movement is based on the sound of Anderson’s drawing. When the performance is complete, the finished drawing exists both as a visual record of the performance, and an artwork of layered and interwoven gestures. The correlated inaccurate gestures, which AI algorithms would have identified as errors, have generated the creation of patterns.  

The accompanying exhibition catalogue features newly commissioned texts by independent curator and researcher Rose Lejeune, art critic, psychoanalyst Annabelle Gugnon and anthropologist Max Carocci alongside a series of talks and live performances. 

Alice Anderson studied fine art at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and Goldsmiths College, London. Since 2008, Anderson has been exploring body movement in her practice that includes studies of femininity and gender. Anderson has exhibited and performed internationally at museums including National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow (2019); Drawing Room, London (2019); DenFrie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen (2018); La Patinoire Royale, Brussels (2018); Espace Vanderborgh, Brussels (2018); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2017, 2010); Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); Espoo Museum of Arts, Finland (2015); Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton, Paris (2015); Wellcome Collection, London (2014); 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2012); Kunsthalle Dusseldorf (2011); Freud Museum, London (2011). Anderson is artist-in-residence of Atelier Calder, Saché, France.


Alice Anderson: Body Disruptions is at Waddington Custot, 12 March-10 May 2019. 11 Cork Street, London W1S 3LT

Wednesday 24 April 6.30-8.00 pm  Special performance - Transitional Dances, 6.45 pm followed by talk with curator Rose Lejeune and choreographer Martin Hargreaves