Curated by Dazed's Francesca Gavin, the art duo document their performances in Berlin
Dance features heavily in the work of art duo Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, who find themselves drawn to the heightened emotional state dancing induces on some “primal” level. For them, as the creation of their works involves an element of performance, their art comes in two waves, the dancing itself which is documented, and the eventual finished piece. Ahead of the opening of Syncopation, a group show curated by Dazed & Confused’s Francesca Gavin, which will feature work by the pair, Dazed speaks to Levack and Lewandowski about hypnotic magic of dance and audience participation.
Dazed Digital: What is it about dance that fascinates you?
Jennifer Lewandowski: The excitement and joy that comes with the extreme fun of dancing; freedom, escapism, expression, a certain kind of showing off. A higher state of being; dancing elevates the spirit. I don’t want to use the term tribal as it’s been exhausted but dancing is primal and enlivening, an empowering of sorts. The energy and intensity it can bring, solo or en masse.
Samuel Levack: Dancing is an emotionally heightened experience, it's non-verbal, and so somehow it feels more truthful.
DD: Is the act of the dance as important as the image/video/still created?
Jennifer Lewandowski: The entire production is just as important as the outcome, the shoot brings in the live quality that we seek to employ in our projects, inviting friends and people we meet to our studio to dance creates the spirited atmosphere we aim to produce within our art. It’s all part of the process, I like the dancers to leave with an experience that can exist as another part of the work, the shoot almost takes on a life of it’s own, a possible happening.
Samuel Levack: The act of the dance is both more important in that it is real, and less important in that it is not really the work. As such it can't be as important.
DD: You have an interest in magic which fits neatly in with your love of dance as the two are linked by tradition and folklore. There is also the undercurrent of dance traditionally being associated to magic with regards to witchcraft. Why do you think dance is so provocative?
Jennifer Lewandowski: The enchantment of dance and magic is entwined both symbolically and in reality, a hypnotic mystical sequence. The energy created by dance I think scares some people, you can lose control dancing and not all religions like to lose control, in fact not all people like to lose control.
Samuel Levack: People are different and their tastes are different and tastes change over time. My tastes are quite modern and I believe art should always be closely related to magic.
DD: Syncopation is quite open in the disciplines it invites and has an interactive, "show" element. You too have presented interactive work before (Triptych). How important is it for other people to be actively involved in your work and what kind of an experience do you suppose they have?
Jennifer Lewandowski: Of course it depends on the project but we’ve found that we really enjoy the grander scale collaborative ventures we take on, building an environment as a playground for experiments. I’d hope other people working with us or taking part in the performances understand they are a core part of the project, that they can be the creators of their own experience as much as we can.
Samuel Levack: People's involvement in the work often adds another element to it. Occasionally it is the audience who actually makes the work. I hope they have fun.
Curated by Francesca Gavin
Group exhibition with Cory Arcangel and Frankie Martin, Oliver Laric, Paolo Chiasera and DJ Shablo, Ajit Chauhan, Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, Jayson Scott Musson, Jeremy Shaw, Matt Stokes and Mark Titchner
GRIMMUSEUM, Fichte Strasse, 2 10967 Berlin; 21-31 October 2010. Open daily 2pm-7pm. Private view Thursday 21st October 7pm. Performance 9pm. Afterparty: Bierhaus Urban from 11pm, Urban Str 126 corner Graefe str with DJs Jeremy Shaw, Francesca Gavin.