In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Self-Portraiture/Self-Prompt
  • Gwen Welliver (bio)

These drawings explore the expressive potential of line and figure in the mutable spaces that separate abstraction from representation. Beneath form and surface—skin, if you like—they probe the grotesque physicality inherent in embodied movement.

My intent in drawing is not to make a work on paper, it's to move. Each time I place the charcoal on the page, I try to empty my body and just begin. As it becomes more involved in the drawing, the edges of my face, the time embedded in my skin, the rhythmic drop of weight against the floor, and the emotional tenor of the day—and much more—become marks on the page. The drawings aren't figurative, they are representational. But the boundaries between the two are fluid, not fixed, and less articulate than we often imagine.

Lines can represent specific detail about how something works, some essence of an action—what the subject is attending to while moving—without addressing the outward appearance of the subject. This is how I understand these drawings and my dances.

Drawings of this kind propel an ongoing line of inquiry about the activity of the imagination; in part, how imagination can sometimes or suddenly experience the body as a formal container (or vice versa). "Wait, what was that; what did I just become?" Starting with formal movement experiments—something as simple as "line, fold, rotate"—my collaborators and I give ourselves permission to consider that formal container as a frame of reference inside of which there are encounters with the unreal, the untamed, the imagined. The movement material this practice generates is not seen and edited purely for its appearance or narrative. Instead, its rigor of attention to do the complex operations at play are prioritized, and proprioceptive imagination determines the narrative. [End Page 38]

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Stuart Singer and Julia Burrer in Beasts and Plots, New York Live Arts performance center, 2013.

Photo: Courtesy Ian Douglas.

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Stuart Singer, drawing made during a performance of Gwen Welliver's Beasts and Plots, charcoal on paper, 70" × 107", 2013.

Courtesy the artist.

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Spine from Portraits 1–3, sand on paper, 70" × 107", 2009.

Courtesy the artist.

[End Page 39]

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Self-Portrait 2300: Falling Face, charcoal on paper, 18" × 24", 2013.

Courtesy the artist.

[End Page 40]

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Self-Portrait for TB, charcoal on paper, 18" × 24", 2017.

Photo: Courtesy Meagan Helman.

[End Page 41]

Gwen Welliver

GWEN WELLIVER is a dancer and choreographer who works across formats, from performance installation to opera. As a New York Dance and Performance Bessie awardee for sustained achievement in dancing with Doug Varone and Dancers, and as a former rehearsal director for the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Welliver's work as a dancer, choreographer, and director has been presented in theatres that include La MaMa, City Center, New York Live Arts, Palais Garnier, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Theatre, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and Singapore Festival of Arts. She is on the faculty of the School of Dance at Florida State University.



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pp. 38-41
Launched on MUSE
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