During Claire Zakiewicz's residency at Bill Young Dance studios in New York, she collaborated with dancers Anna Chirescu, who trained in classical dance at the Conservatory of Paris before joining the Conservatoire National superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), and Pierre Guilbault, a Paris-based dancer, who has a background in ballet and contemporary dance, and New York based singer and cellist Lenna Pierce.
Collaborative Control, 2016
Acrylic and pigment on canvas
" x 96" (292 x 244cm)
My drawing considerations include strategies to control or restrict movement such as, attention to breath or other countable pulses, which may be employed to navigate a tempo for the movement. I use various methods to cease control and offer myself to a spontaneous improvisation. These include making use of accidental marks. I might lay a canvas or paper on the floor which catches particles of pigment creating a dust or accidental drawing. I use this approach when directing dancers and performing drawing. Sometimes I apply paint to a dancer’s feet. I ask them to focus particularly on the movements of their upper body so that the mark making doesn’t have an ‘intentional’ focus. Practicing performance, movement and acting methods have revealed that spontaneous, moment-to-moment responses, gestures and dialogues (before thinking and self-consciousness) result, not only in a more compelling performance but also, when applied to drawing, produce a surprising balance in the composition. This balance or unity in the image is immediately visually recognizable and somehow more ‘perfect’ than when consideration is applied. Improvisation in front of an audience takes courage because a good performance involves side-stepping ones identity and persona - being willing to look bad, to fail and to lose control. Dancers and painters often speak of entering a trance-like state where somebody or something else is controlling things. Allowing imperfections to be not only visible but also the main material allows us to consider the beauty and value of the imperfect.
Cezanne talked of finishing his paintings in the same movement, the same conviction, “I bring into relation everything that is scattered.” As Walter Benjamin said, “everything that is beautiful has semblance, because it is alive in one sense or another. - Claire Zakiewicz
"When I first saw Claire's paintings, I was struck by a kind of universality, at the same time that they strongly reminded me of Slavic fairytales. 'Look', I said, 'there's the firebird and he wants the viewer to follow'. I could see the characters very clearly even though other people surely saw something completely different. A great fairytale is both universal and specific.
The setting for the project, a huge Soho loft that had been presented to Claire by the kindness of strangers, put us all in a great mood. It was like a dream of what New York art life should be.
The method, painting by dancer, reminded me of memories made of physical movement: treasure maps, battle plans, peak sexual experiences. In the improvisation I moved around an internal map of conflict and union. It was thrilling to see the dancers respond to my music and I tried to be as responsive to them as possible. I could tell we had all succeeded by the great feeling of closeness afterward, dappled by joyful laughter. We had created an intuitive and caring balance of power, a real harmony that transcended any of the elements physically present." - Lenna Pierce, 2016