Heather Hansen’s Kinetic drawings

by Laura Luppi

Art is always the consequence of a movement, like life, regardless of whether it is generated to drag the brush across the canvas, the chisel across wood or stone or to move your body on a stage. Heather Hansen transfers her movement onto paper by marking it with charcoal and thus building a diagram of her dance. Her performance acquires the peculiarity of ancient rituals accompanied by sequence of musical pieces, her gestures repeatedly following the rhythm of music in an endless arcane dance. Heather, barefoot, approaches the paper lying on the floor in front of her. She looks at it, she walks on it, she breathes, she bends, she lies down. From that moment on a ritual dance begins, made up of uninterrupted, regular, circular and linear movements. Following a prearranged choreography the artist performs each gesture with precision and with all her concentration, thus giving free rein to her creative and instinctive impulse guided by the sensations and atmospheres interacting with her. Each change of position, each change of intensity is captured as her hands mark them directly on the paper, making this motion indelible and printing on paper what would otherwise be destined to disappear into nothingness just because it would survive as a blurred vision in the onlookers’ mind. The final result is a drawing which the artist herself defines as a “kinetic” one, because it has been created through her body in motion, which therefore becomes an integral part of the art work. The creamy consistency of the charcoal leaves tracks of her passage on the surface, but also on the artist’s skin, on her clothes, on her hair. Everything must be regarded as a tool, as a symbol and, at the same time as a consequence and subject matter of a creative process in which many expressive languages are involved. Furthermore, viewed from above or from a distance Hansen’s Kinetic drawings have the same strong emotional impact as the mysterious pictograms or the well-known crop circles which have been subject to the most diverse interpretations mainly linked to supernatural. Undoubtedly a kind of spirituality seems to subtend a nearly meditative artmaking practice carried out by means of a harmonious sequence of steps of a mystic flavour in geometrical forms evoking Oriental imagery. It is no coincidence that Heather, born in Burley (USA) in 1970, declared that she got close to Butoh, a form of Japanese contemporary dance, in the years between 1994 and 2000. This performance art has its origins in the 1950s and considers the nudity of the body in white body paint to be a message-bearer thanks to the theatrical interpretation of the performance. During her stay in Japan she got involved with the action painting techniques of the Gutai group, by which she was deeply fascinated and later on influenced, with its direct and implosive way of physically work on the canvas. Today her performances take place on the streets of some cities, in private art galleries (such as the contemporary art space Ochi Projects locate in Los Angeles) or in museums (among which the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in Baton Rouge — Los Angeles) and she is also engaged in various educational projects with young students with the aim of making, expressing and living art as a dance.

 

Photo credits: photos by Justin Sullivan taken at Ochi Projects, Los Angeles

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