Can dance be captured in a work of visual art? How does one suspend a moving body or moment in a painting? The Dance! Movement in the Visual Arts 1880–2020 exhibition is looking for answers to these questions by exploring more than 140 works by 50 artists.
The arched halls of Tennispalatsi will be filled with works in which dance reflects passion, bliss, and joie de vivre to wistfulness, sorrow and vulnerability. The works in the exhibition show how our bodies can be vital, full of life and flowing as well as tired, sick and dying at the same time. The diverse exhibition consists of delicate and quiet paintings and video art that are also full of life and explode with energy. The heavy material of the sculptures has been forged to take light shapes of movement and the unfinished line of the sketches carries the flow of movement. The photographs depict the historical story of modern dance, but also provide a current view on identity and being a dancer.
The exhibition brings together artists from different eras, with women represented comprehensively. Gems from Finnish collections include works by Anna Estarriola, Eva Gyldén, Sini Pelkki, Kalervo Palsa, Laila Pullinen, Eino Ruutsalo, Hugo Simberg, Ellen Thesleff and Venny Soldan-Brofeldt. The exhibition also features notable international works from the likes of Edgar Degas and Louise Bourgeois. Contemporary art reflecting on dance is also highlighted in tapestries created by Sonja Jokiniemi for the exhibition as well as Bárbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca’s massive installation, to name few.
The nature of modern dance is built on the presumption that there is only one true form of dance: something individual to each person. The works in the exhibition make the incentive and inspiration between visual arts and dance throughout the 20th century tangible. The modern dance revolution coincided with great public, economic and social upheaval at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, such as urbanisation, the development of new technologies and forms of art, the individualisation of culture, scientific leaps forward and changes in women’s status. Dance and visual arts started to take a critical approach to the prevalent cultural concepts, and women who reinvented modern dance, from Isadora Duncan to Maggie Gripenberg, for example, had a great influence on the imagery of art. Over the last 150 years, the fields of visual arts and dance have discussed identity and gender as well as class, race and power at great lengths.
The exhibition was curated by art and culture historian Hanna-Reetta Schreck and HAM Curator Arttu Merimaa.
A book edited by Hanna-Reetta Schreck and Saara Karhunen, Tanssi! Kirjoituksia tanssista ja kuvataiteesta (Teos) (Dance! On Dance and Visual Arts), will be published in connection with the exhibition. The book is an integral part of the exhibition, but can also be enjoyed on its own. Some of its 10 essays on dance from different perspectives focus on the content of the exhibition, whereas others provide new viewpoints on the entity.