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Siobhan Davies Dance investigates the arts

They say what they do is ‘investigative arts’ for the work of Siobhan Davies Dance fits no certain category. The London-based organisation’s ambitious new installation material/rearranged/to/be at the Barbican Centre is a continuous moving landscape exploring body, gesture and movement through a diverse group of of choreographers, dancers, artists, designers and scientists.

Andrea Buckley at Siobhan Davies Dance Barbican

They are individually and collectively exploring the work of Aby Warburg. In the early part of the last century the German art historian and cultural theorist collected diverse images of gestures from different times and places and positioned them side-by-side to reveal previously-hidden relationships.

On the opening night, the Barbican’s Curve transformed into an animated theatre of movements and gestures as dance choreographers (Andrea Buckley, Siobhan Davies, Helka Kaski, Charlie Morrissey, Efrosini Protopapa, Matthias Sperling), visual artists (Jeremy Millar, Emma Smith), and designers (Tim Simpson and Sarah van Gameren of Glithero) performed and exhibited their work, overlapping one another for a truly engaging evening.

Siobhan Davies performing in Siobhan Davies Dance Barbican

The installations include live performance, film projection and objects in ever-changing arrangements to interrogate the relationship between mind and body. Morrissey’s Actions from the Encyclopedia of Experience, for instance, sees him performing actions and gestures in relation to categories – from the basic to the bizarre – which he projects on a screen.

For Spinach it is crucial to remain engaged with the arts. We are fascinated by the ideas coming through this collective of investigative artists for it helps us explore our work differently too – guiding and exciting us to look at wider references and explore beyond the obvious fields that involve our design and branding industry.

Charlie Morrissey at Siobhan Davies Dance Barbican

Siobhan Davies is a contemporary dancer and choreographer who continues to push the boundaries of performance dance to include the broader arts as well as language and science. She is unlike so many others in her world, the more ‘superstar’ contemporary dance choreographers such as Hofesh Shechter who are perhaps a little seduced by the allure of the more sensational side of dance, and of course the crowds it attracts.

Of course, exposing the contemporary arts to a wider audience is positive too, yet we will always need creatives who push the envelope, take risks. It means their work is not always going to be easy to watch and can be hard to digest. Yet surely one of the main objectives of art is to make us think, and Siobhan Davies Dance certainly does.

Nargess Banks

material/rearranged/to/be is on until January 28 at the Barbican and should not be missed.

Andrea Buckley at Siobhan Davies Dance Barbican
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