Klara Liden’s Corps de Ballet is comprised of a series of performative videos and sculptures that create an awareness of directed movement, whether it is within a space or through the motion of the body. The four videos-projected on two walls of her upstairs gallery and displayed on a monitor beneath the first floor staircase-show the artist performing a variety of subtle and dramatic actions inside and outside of the studio. Accompanying the looped shorts is an unfurled roll of black tar paper that gracefully swoops down from the ceiling, creating a stage-like area in the center of the room. A grouping of five body-scaled cubic sculptures-also made of tar paper-is suspended vertically from the ceiling with sisal rope. A soundtrack featuring a rhythmic piano composition by Åskar Brickman unites the work. The only illumination in the gallery is provided by three projectors and the natural light filtered through a bank of windows.
In her 2009 exhibition Elda för kråkorna, Liden modified the aged interior of Reena Spaulings Fine Art by constructing a new, smaller gallery inside the larger space; she then lured city pigeons into the area between the two rooms, creating an organic score of scratching and pecking noise. The artist enhanced the idea of controlled movement by creating a constricting corridor that individuals were required to travel through. To a visitor’s surprise, the hallway led to a dimly lit room containing only a small sofa. This work not only choreographed the movement of the viewers, but it also drew attention to the sociological and psychological aspects of how we negotiate and share an intimate space with others.
In a similar way, the arrangement of objects in Corps de Ballet sets up a potential problem for the viewer. A large percentage of the floor space in Liden’s gallery is covered by tar paper, the type normally used by roof installers. This appears to present an obstacle, constricting movement through the space, though the low-cost material can easily be walked upon and does not form a physical barrier such as a wall. The suspended tar paper sculptures prompt a different awareness of movement: one black box slowly rotates while four adjacent columns hang eerily still. The dim lighting, midnight black paper, and somber soundtrack creates a psychologically charged space through the most economical means.
Minimal intervention is also a feature of Liden’s performative videos. In a departure from her previous works, where the camera follows her unbridled actions, the shorts Liden created at Artpace are meditative recordings that show the artist physically embracing her urban surroundings. Two of the pieces appear to be common surveillance-like videos of spaces around the Artpace grounds, yet upon closer examination the artist is visible, clinging-at alarming heights-to a light pole in one, and a support pillar in the other, before slowly sliding down both. Through an unexpected exploration of our physical engagement with space, Corps de Ballet will undoubtedly challenge the viewer’s perception of the built environment.
-Alexander Freeman, Education Curator