Kelly Nipper's Black Forest show set for Glasgow International
Vast installation incorporating dance, ceramics, textiles and print
For all the apparent complexities of Los Angeles artist Kelly Nipper’s oeuvre – her commitment to Labanotation, the system used for analysing dance, or her interest in geometry – a fairly simple conceit lies at its heart. For Nipper, human movement remains the most direct expression of communication. Her meticulously executed works, based in photography, video and installations of bodies-in-action, explore relations of space, time and dimension. Often making use of dancers, these are majestic portraits of motion, and her challenging presentation for Tramway’s main gallery space will extend this highly idiosyncratic approach.
Nipper’s dancers often team masks or hoods with geometrically patterned costumes, as if tribal offspring of the bold aesthetics of 1920s futurism, or contemporary counter-parts to Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhausian ballerinas. Performing in response to score-based choreography, their slow, hypnotic, repetitive movements and patterns come to articulate contours, elegantly fashioning forms from their surrounds.
Melding elements of dance, ceramics, textiles and print, Black Forest will feature dancers performing daily routines addressing the formal attributes of the five multiple-faced polyhedrons – the cube, the dodecahedron, and so forth. Thick wool blankets will smother the cavernous gallery space, providing a unified plane to hide, support or encompass the dancers.
The vast installation and repetitive nature of this work provokes thought of ritualized gestures, and it is apparent that the artist is interested in the symbolic effects of movements – their larger communications. As such, her address to the mythically and historically loaded site of the Black Forest holds great intrigue.
Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 20 Apr–Mon 7 May