Tea before The Last supper
Tea before the Last Supper
Tea before the last supper
Tea before the Last Supper emerged out of my performative mode of working. I began to feel more confident about the performative way I was approaching subject matter, and after discussions with a performance artist Gina Kraft, I became interested in the idea of translation. That is, translating her particular visual language in order to broaden my own. Having established (through previous experiments) that encountering different languages causes various problems that require inventive strategies in order to find resolutions, I was excited that collaboration with such specific artists could manifest an even further layered perspective on art making and subject matter.
I began to imagine how many perspectives could be visually reproduced using the process of translation. Gina Kraft’s work, like my own practice, has a particular mode defined by her own experiences and opinions of the world. When I approached her with the idea of collaborating, she was working on a performance piece inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, The Last Supper. Her idea was to deconstruct the painting and develop a physical language that could translate into an actual physical performance of her interpretation of The Last Supper. We began to work together, thinking that my experience as a dancer could possibly be of assistance to her. Our strategy began by noticing the gestural quality of the bodies in Da Vinci’s painting, and we began mimicking each individual disciple and developing more and more interlacing movement that could animate the still image and bring to life the movement of the characters in the painting and their anticipation of an impending dinner. The comedy of this process emerged when I realised that instead of Gina and I directing twelve performers to create a more natural interpretation of the spatial relationships between people eating at a dinner table, we were frantically attempting to enact all twelve individuals at the same time. We used the video camera to capture our movements and editing programs to cut and paste our individual performances into one frame, which allowed us to see the performance as a whole. We went to great lengths to replicate ourselves another ten times so that we could envisage the bodies required for the final performance.
At the same time as we were replicating ourselves I was enthralled by C.S Lewis’s book, Alice in Wonderland, and had just read the Mad Hatter’s tea party scene. I could not help but relate the way Gina and I were working to how the March Hare and The Mad Hatter constantly move from one seat to the next, pretending they were beginning the party again at every new seat. In the book the Hatter is accused of killing time, as if time were a person, and as such the revolving tea party is never-ending – when ‘time’ was killed, it was teatime again! A certain irony prevailed in the sense that the painting we were drawing inspiration from was timeless in its legacy as a painting. Drawing on the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland I wanted to capture timeless movement in a still image. I wanted to create an image that captured the constant passing of time. The way Gina and I had been tricking time through cutting and pasting ourselves on a timeline was as if we were the Mad Hatter and the March Hare trapped in a frantic tea party where time is never present. I was now beginning to translate Gina’s translation of The Last Supper into my own.
I found the humour in the process of production, and Gina kindly agreed to assist me in realising my artwork through our invented process. As we had been working with video and photography, from the inspiration of a still image (the painting), I decided that I wanted to re-create my own still image, capturing remnants of the famous painting but exploring the movement imagined in the Tea Party scene. It became important to display the frenetic manner in which we were working through movement. I enlisted the expertise of Matthew Kay (a photographer particularly interested in movement) and we set up a photo shoot that used slow shutter speeds to capture the movements that Gina and I (dressed as the Hare and Hatter) had been working on for the past few months. I then cut and pasted the stills of the March Hare and Hatter interacting with one another into one image. The resultant image exists as a photographic painting of sorts because light became a tool with which to capture and trace movement.
The captured image is a reflection on the process of choreographing Gina’s Last Supper. There was a playful interaction between Gina and myself that didn’t inhibit the creative process. I was able to create my own boundaries in relation to her already set parameters and the disciplined, scheduled meetings that we both engaged on a weekly basis ensured our process progressed steadily. The existing image meant to interpret the chaotic manner in which we negotiated the choreography and should be read as the prelude to The Last Supper performance.