Hand in Glove: A performed exhibition
Dance artist and writer Gareth Chambers thoughts of choreographer Lea Anderson’s performed exhibition, Hand in Glove at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Walking into the grandness of the V&A it seems like a million worlds away from New Cross, South East London the gritty borough synonymous with Goldsmiths, Blur, Damien Hirst and Bloc Party. The dance birth place of the very woman whose retrospective of work I’m itching to see.
Lea Anderson is one of the main reasons why I chose to study at Laban. She’s always been on the cusp of what’s dance and what’s visual art? A bit punk and a dash of queerness. So it was with great excitement and apprehension I made the solitary journey to see the museum showcase her work featuring the students of the London Contemporary Dance School (A controversial choice to the boardroom of a certain institution?)
The gorgeous gallery 48, home to Raphael’s becomes a fantasy world full of the strange, picaresque characters created by Lea and her collaborators visual artist Simon Vincenzi, designers Emma Fryer and Sandy Powell. This short exhibition featured snapshots of her long, illustrious impact on the perhaps vanilla British dance scene (excluding Michael Clark) through her companies The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs.
What struck me the most about this exhibition was the sense of it being a mechanical beast, with numerous nuances and many metallic arms. I felt like I was going out, experiencing the mysterious smoky world of the gay club. Everything is up for grabs. The world of Lea’s oeuvre is slightly camp, queer and almost abject. For example the lumps, tumours of the Russian Roulette costumes. I often think that the visuals/aesthetics of Lea’s performances match her liminal stance in the dance industry. Just a bit on the outside and not the norm.
Metallic almost Grahamic dancers create their own scenography within the ornate space, the personification of Egon Schile sketches strut and fall, giving an eerie otherness. Cross dressing is prevalent, what does this comment on? Is it a flashback to the Top of the Pops Glamour of the 1980’s?
Wandering alone through the space, I spotted many dancers, artists and visual artists, but I didn’t want to acknowledge them, thinking back the reason for this is quite, plain and simple. I wanted to devour the work and the images. Lea Anderson like I said before has been a major influence on my work, alongside Alexander McQueen. To me it’s all about the visuals, what the eye sees and what it recognises.
The monsters/hybrids/creatures from the vast collection of work were and are an example of refusing the coloured leotards and clean lines. Creating something transcendental, fabulous and evocative, oozing a sexy slime in a glided gallery.
Images from Lea Anderson.com
Gareth Chambers is a dance artist, performer and writer. He regularly contributes to Bellyflop, a London based artist-led online magazine. http://www.garethchambers.wales
More information regarding Lea Anderson can be found here, http://www.leaanderson.com.