The Graham Foundation is pleased to present The Master and Form, a new installation and performance series by artist Brendan Fernandes that explores themes of mastery and discipline within the culture of ballet through the use of designed objects that enable dancers to perfect and extend iconic positions. Through his residency at the Graham Foundation, artist Brendan Fernandes worked with the architecture and design collective Norman Kelley to develop a series of sculptural devices that serve as sites for intense, endurance-based practice. In contrast to the grace and apparent ease of ballet as seen on stage, the project seeks to investigate the nature of the discipline’s idealized poses, acknowledging the rigorous training necessary to achieve these shapes.
In rehearsals and performances throughout the run of the exhibition, Fernandes assumes the role of ballet master and directs dancers from the Joffrey Academy of Dance as they perform with and within these structures, pushing closer to ideal forms on the edge of their physical abilities. While the sculptural objects and suspended ropes act as supports for the dancers’ bodies as they strive for ever longer extension and lengthy holds within each pose, the open scaffolding system provides a space for counter stretches, self-care, and physical and psychological release. The choreography—in which the master is both present but physically absent—seeks to queer the space of ballet, exploring the perverse pleasure of sacrifice in the name of form.
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