In the first phase of this new commission, which was presented in the Parthenon Gallery at the British Museum, artist Alexis Blake worked with a group of diverse professional dancers to question historical representations of the idealised female body. Referencing Diana Watts and Dora Menzler’s contributions to the women’s physical culture movement of the early 20th Century, which drew inspiration from Greek philosophy, history and ideals, and the appropriation of this physical culture movement by fascist regimes as means of propaganda, this choreographic work explores notions of national collective identity vs personal expression through democratic movements, principles of balance and perceptions of beauty.
By using the archive of exercises and movements from Diana Watt’s 1914 book Renaissance of the Greek Ideal, Dora Menzler’s 1924 booklets, Body Training of women in images and watch words, the fascist regimes exercises of the 1930’s done by groups of women, and the imagery of the frieze in the Parthenon Gallery, Blake questions and abstracts these Western standards of the ideal body that are still very much embedded in today’s Western society.
Ellen van Schuylenburch
Cinematography - Robert Berger
Producer - Lucas van Woerkum
Editing - Alexis Blake + Lucas van Woerkum
Sound technician and sound editing - Jasper van Gheluwe
Project Producer - Zara Truss Giles
Performed in the Parthenon Gallery of the British Museum, 2016
Co-commisioned by Block Universe and Delfina Foundation
Supported by the Mondriaan Fonds and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
© Conditions of an Ideal, Alexis Blake, 2016 - ongoing