white box performances

Photographer Hugo Glendinning is the current Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts, based in in the Drama Department at Exeter University. Last Wednesday he introduced his White Box Performances exhibition in the Alexander Building, where the Drama Department is situated at the university. Most students, unless they are of the department of Drama, will know of Thornlea as ‘the funny looking building opposite the Impy’ and will have taken no notice of it. However, I recommend plucking up the courage to make your way past the black-clothed students carrying obscure objects and discussing their endless hours, through the main doors and up the stairs to the small space that is dedicated to Hugo’s work, and will unfortunately be there only until this Wednesday (the 17th of November).

With this project Hugo has investigated his role as photographer within the documentation of performance, and is very interested in the current trend of performance work being set in art galleries. Some of the photographs capture performances in the Tate Modern, for example of Trisha Brown’s Spanish Dance, which consists of five female dancers move across the room inch by inch to the Bob Dylan song Early Morning Rain, finishing in a pile against a wall. The image shown was taken on the very last note of the song “at the moment that the front dancer meets the end wall and the dancers behind collapse on her”, Hugo explains. “The humour of the piece is counterpointed by the incredible precision of the advancing women who must cover the distance to the wall inch perfect for the final note, step, collapse, to work. I’m still reeling from the beauty of it”.

Hanging on the wall near the centre of the exhibition are the four images that seduce me the most. They are stills of Martin Creed’s Work 850 which took place in the Tate Britain in 2008. Hugo has snapped the performers, who ran again and again through the museum every day for four months, suspended in flight as they neither rise nor fall from their position. Being a lover of movement in photography, I find these images spilling with as much energy as the performance they have documented.

Hugo has worked in photography for more than twenty five years; he has collaborated with various artists, taken portraits and is commissioned regularly by renowned theatre companies such as the RSC and the National Theatre. His work has been published and exhibited internationally in books, performances and museums. For more information and to see more of his work, click here. Do try and make it to the exhibition today or tomorrow; it will take a few minutes of your time to appreciate the works of art Hugo has captured and created. I hope you enjoy them.

Rosie x

Razz Arts Co-ordinator

(All images copyright © Hugo Glendinning)

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