Katya Grokhovsky SLOW DANCEOpening: Tuesday 5 June, 6-8pm Dates: 5-23 June 2012
‘SLOW DANCE’ is a solo exhibition of a series of recent works by Katya Grokhovsky. Taking place at BUS Projects in Gallery 1 and 2, ‘SLOW DANCE’ is a concept, a metaphor of our slow, or incredibly fast, intimate, often coupled and extremely human, dance to the grave. Developed for a participatory live performance in 2010, (during a relocation to the US) with a desire to connect to others and based around the idea of a simple couple dance or an old-fashioned mating ritual, ‘SLOW DANCE’ is an exploration of our simultaneous desire and fear of closeness, aging, loneliness and the ultimate distance between us. The exhibition is a combination of videos, found objects, drawings, photographs and an opening night and closing day participatory performance.
“Post-colonial theorist, Edward Said stated that “Exile is predicated on the existence of, love for, and bond with, one’s native place; what is true of all exile is not that home and love of home are lost, but that loss is inherent in the very existence of both.”[i] For Katya Grokhovsky, having emigrated from the Ukraine to Australia as a teenager as part of her family’s escape from the collapsing Communist regime, then following her artistic career from Melbourne to London to Chicago to New York, this “inherent loss” in the existence of home and attachment to it have become part and parcel to her artistic practice. In Slow Dance, Grokhovsky performs fleeting moments of intimacy with her family and audience-participants as a marker of time and its passage, as a familiar and as a stranger.
The artist brings with her the only object she has been able to take with her throughout her travels, her own body. Within this body is an urgency to become accessible, to step out of the shadow of the Other, the foreigner, always waiting, always observing, always seeking to get it “right,” and to participate as one who belongs, as one who is, in actuality, home. What occurs out of this desire is a performance of self in the liminal space between these experiences. As a figure of the eternal dance partner, she must remain as others travel in and out of her arms. The artist acts as a messenger, mirror, or in psychoanalytic terms, a carrier of transference. Within the dyad of couples’ dancing, the artist makes herself available as a reflection of the desires, memories, and emotions held by her partners’ within their intimate relationships. Likewise, Grokohvsky literalizes this transference by dancing with her parents, and then opening up the space for even a stranger to act as a substitute.
In Slow Dance, the act of turning is not only physical, but is also perceptual. As two bodies slowly learn to move synchronously, they communicate with one another through proprioception, sharing a kinesthetic awareness of movement. Bodies glide apart and converge, sharing their stories without words. There is comfort in this activity, which is not about reaching any ultimate goal but to simply continue turning until someone steps away. Said continues, “Regard experiences as if they were about to disappear. What is it that anchors them in reality? What would you save of them? What would you give up?”[ii] Grokhovsky, poised in dress and heels, her arms arched and ready for the next dance, must experience the bittersweet moment of letting-go (of one partner), and be open to another through constant revolutions in the immediate physical and socio-political senses of the word.
Through turning again and again without arriving at one partner, the artist celebrates intimacy for its own sake. She abandons a singular definition of place, self, or other, and allows her own perceptions to shift with each dance. Maurice Blanchot described a “great movement of love” as, “when you go beyond the beloved, when you are true to the audacity of this movement which knows neither stop nor limit, [which] surpasses him in order that he not be the screen that would hide the outside.”[iii] For Grokhovsky, Slow Dance is an act of love without a singular love object. It is a movement that is part of a greater flow and movement of coming together and growing apart. Through the other, we see again and again, that which is Other within ourselves. We learn through this interaction how to relate as both foreign and familiar.”
Text from “Together Apart: Slow Dancing with Katya Grokhovsky”, exhibition essay by Marissa Perel. Exhibition Catalog
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Katya Grokhovsky is a New York based, Australian/Ukrainian multidisciplinary artist. She has an MFA in Sculpture (2011) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA, a BFA in Painting (2007) from Victorian College of the Arts and a BA in Fashion (2000) from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. She has received awards and scholarships, such as SFAI residency scholarship award (USA), SAIC Graduate International Scholarship (USA), Freedman Travelling Scholarship for Emerging Artists (NAVA, Australia), Maude Glover Fleay Award (Australia) and many others. Grokhovsky’s recent projects include residency at Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico, “The Art School” – an educational project – residency in Queens, NY, awarded by chashama, a “Wonderwomen” residency at_gaia studio, Jersey City, a residency at ChaNorth, Pine Plains, NY, a residency at Robert Wilson’ s Watermill Center, Long Island, NY and numerous group and solo exhibitions as well as performances in Art Fairs, Performance Festivals, non-profit, artist run, university and commercial gallery spaces in USA and Australia.
Marissa Perel is an artist, writer and independent curator based in Brooklyn, New York. Recent shows include the ITINERANT Performance Art Festival (NY), Grace Exhibition Space (NY), and a solo exhibition at Spoke Gallery (Chicago, IL). She is the founder of “Gimme Shelter,” the exclusive column on performance on the Art21 Blog. She is co-editor of the on-line dance and performance journal, Critical Correspondence. Perel is co-curator of the Movement Research Spring Festival 2012: Push It. Real. Good, and has recently become the curator of Lobby Talks at New York Live Arts (NY). Perel received her M.F.A in Performance and Studio Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a B.A. in Writing and Literature from Naropa University.
[i] p.148 Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Said, Edward, Harvard University Press, 2000.
[iii] p.136 The Space of Literature. Blanchot, Maurice, University of Nebraska Press, 1982.