Effort Economy

On view February 1 – May 5, 2019

Featuring Julie FavreauRaul GonzalezR. Eric McMasterRonny Quevedo, and Anne Wallace.

Reflecting on dancer and theorist Rudolf Laban’s ideas related to effort and movement the exhibition features artists whose work utilizes choreography in some form. Movement and the body are essential to the works in the exhibition, with artists considering the design and sequencing of movement as it relates to dance, sports, daily life, eroticism, and more. Other ideas presented through this exhibition include internal rhythm and time as forces we connect our bodies to, and our drive for interconnectivity to one another in both the material and immaterial world.

Laban introduced the termeffortin the context of modern dance theory as a mental impulse where movement originates. He designated four factors of motion— space, weight, time and flow— that embody effort. The combination of these factors generates the dynamic of movement. Laban also defined basic actions relating to effort: to press, to flick, to wring, to dab, to slash, to glide, to punch and to float.

Using Laban’s theories as a foundation, this exhibition also considers the varied definitions of the terms effort and economy in combination with one another. We look at different contexts where our movements are calculated, sometimes the parameters fabricated or designed by the artists. Artists consider how the expenditure of energy can be optimized, futile, emotional, healing, sensual, mundane, and create new aesthetic languages. The works generate questions around the values we assign to the exerting effort, whether this be monetary, economic, social, or moral.

Julie Favreau’s practice lies at the intersection of visual arts and choreography. Her research on performative gesture and movement feeds the production of sculptural objects and vice versa. Through video, sculpture, performance, photography and installation, she creates characters, objects and gestures that compose enigmatic and troubling universes that navigate between the intimate and the unconscious, inspiring a heightened sensorial awareness in the viewer. In her recent projects, eroticism is approached as a form of power: the artist is interested in exploring the erotic texture of the world, the way animate and inanimate things touch and affect one another.

Favreau expounds on her work She century, This video work has at its core an elastic rope, around which I built a narrative centered on a sole female figure. Part hunter, part magician, the female protagonist conjures an invisible parallel world with her rope. The architectural forms of the environment are juxtaposed to the organic shapes created by the ancient tool that is the rope. In these interactions, Aby Warburg’s concept of “fossils gestures” acted as an anchor: Archaic, shared gestures far more ancient than us are embedded in contemporary bodies. The character of She century plays on the idea of archetypes of women; she draws, hunts, creates abstract figures reminiscent of Greek friezes, archeological sites or decorative arts, harvests at the dawn; performs magic tricks, deconstructs light. The video, in which the protagonist constructs a portrait of herself, is shown in an exhibition comprised of sculptures linked to the video through oblique connections. The rope solidifies into architectural structures, in sculptures that form a psyche garden evoking the garden seen in the video.”

“In Délicat Pulsewe are in diving into the macro of mastering the actions, exercises of stability, of relation of the dance of the camera moving with the body and moving colours gels in between.” 

Raul Gonzalez’s drawings in the exhibition focus on the efforts and labors of the artist’s daily life. Depicting scenes of himself with his daughters in the studio, home, and out and about, the work draws attention to how we parse the minuets of our day and balance our roles, responsibilities, and multifaceted personalities, through the lens of an artist-stay at home dad. Gonzalez’ interests in construction, labor, and the working-class thread through these works through the subtle integration of safety orange, concrete, house paint, and scenes of teaching his daughters to use tools. Concurrently the works highlight the social and economic dichotomy between home-work (“women’s work”) and manual labor. They bring to surface the values assigned to labor in different spheres, their gendering, and possible cultural shifts.

Eric McMaster often makes works focused on the development of the body to reach excellence, whether this be an athlete, dancer, or musicians and creates scenarios where the subject is obstructed or suspended. These peculiar moments are observed by the viewer, sometimes making them a part of the unit, an active participant who completes the work through experiencing it, or giving them a privileged point of view that allows viewers to imagine the divorced as united.

McMaster’s new performance-based work features a conjoined, multi-violin, part sculpture, part prop, part dis-functional instrument. Performers, usually interdependent and unified by the composition they perform, become literally linked.

McMaster’s work Pendulumlocks the subject in perpetual motion using a ponytail, referencing time, pace, and force. In The Obstruction of Action by the Presence of Order the subjects are held at the moment before action, awaiting a signal, both in and out control of the energy they will exert.

Ronny Quevedo’s works utilize the languages of mapping and games as materials for addressing themes of displacement, migrations, and community. He additionally sources from personal anecdotes and history, remembered environments, and real and imagined space.

“The landscapes and histories occupied by marginalized people provide the sites for my investigations. The History of Rules and Measures is an on-going project comprised of drawings and sculptures dedicated to charting migratory experiences. The project consists of visiting and incorporating the culture of indoor soccer leagues organized by Central and South American migrant communities in city gymnasiums.

The games played, and their venues, in these shifting landscapes represent a tradition of negotiating locality. Citing my father’s biography and famous Ecuadorian athletes like Alberto Spencer the playing field marks an arena of transitional icons. The rules of sport represented by gymnasium floors and public playgrounds recall the insistence on survival and constant adaptation through a reconstitution of its logos and implied body movement. This transformation of architecture through changes in the game’s iconography and rules expands the cosmology of displacement.”

Anne Wallace’s new video installation was developed during her time in Berlin as a BSC Berlin Residency artist at Künstlerhaus Bethanian. Wallace investigates dance as a space of safety, security, healing, and community building. While in Berlin she attended various dance classes and events, including those for Syrian refugees. She became aware of these spaces being ones where established societal barriers, such as language, age, gender, and nationality, recede. The rules which govern the space of dance are defined by the choreography and expression of the body.

How we activate our bodies to express and exercise our experiences, strength, rights, emotions, and status are continually debated. The “body as a battleground” continues to be at the forefront of cultural debate, beyond Barbara Kruger’s initial commentaries on women’s rights. The artists in this exhibition use effort, movement, and the body as material and subject, provoking viewers to consider these themes in a variety of contexts. Through reflecting on minutiae of how we choreograph our worlds, we hope this exhibition calls to question the limits and freedoms we assigned to movement and effort.