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  • Atlas of the Gesture
  • Virgilio Sieni (bio)

The drawings made parallel to a performance and accompanying its creation—just like a project articulated in different sites and cities—represent a "mystery chart," if not an actual labyrinth that is welcoming, and lets us wander around to search for revelations. Through the drawings, we can suspend any preconceived notions while looking for possible fissures that can instill the artistic process with meaning. This "chart" consists of annotations that include drawings, imprints, notes, images, and maps representing movements and objects, sites and light, photographs and memories. They articulate time and space while creating chromatic scales in relation to the quality of energy in places and actions. It is a sort of physical diary of a journey in which gestures, like movements, objects, spaces, and light, can be observed from different points of view. The drawings are in dialogue with the choreography, uncovering a continuum of details and perspectives.


Drawings often annotate movements that multiply gestures, one on top of the other (Flight into Egypt /Adobes, Gospel), in order to create a sense of proliferation. I often note in the same place two slightly different movements by superimposing them and including in the sketch the temporal dimensions of the movements occurring at the same time. This process of syncopation is also realized with the annotation of objects. Drawings occur before, during, and after the creative process, providing a starting point that often affects other future creations. The annotation of gestures and objects produces a rhythmical sequence of events.


The modules I use to give a sense of time are simple little squares or rectangles containing drawings, like cinema frames. For instance, in the drawing referring to the Gospel Project, where Jacopo Pontormo's The Deposition from the Cross (1528) works as the trace for a show performed by a blind dancer (Project Gospel, Deposition in the Dark). The visualization very often occurs in the shape of a [End Page 72] floor plan and, as in musical scores, one can visualize the space and location of movement with the objects. However, this floor plan is regularly transgressed by perspectival inserts, notes on light, and fragments from other drawings. All of these create a blast of the moment by having the drawing duplicate the body's ability to regenerate itself and proliferate through the joints system. The drawing corresponds to one of the body's joints: when moving, a joint inevitably affects the whole body, along with the spatial and cultural context by which it is contained and activated. A little module is a "world," a sort of cosmos taking shape from the foundational elements of its choreography and ideas, in order to open up to something else or, rather, to let us comprehend more.


The page, like a musical score, gathers modules, written annotation, photographs, reference images, and scattered drawings. In one figure, myriads of image references come together, one related to the other (I fall). As in the Mnemosyne Atlas by Aby Warburg, various meanings can be transferred and transmitted inside the same image; thus, a color may produce a gesture, which, in turn, echoes in other movements, lights, or architectures. In these figures, we can sense everything pointing to the qualities of the movement. It is a complete asymmetry searching for intimate strategies of solution. The page gathers but never circumscribes the aura of ideas. We could say that it reveals in its entirety a continuous possibility of fissures, messengers, and intruders, which secretly, yet consciously, nourishes the artistic path. The page empties when a work is full of changes of position, when its diverse forces establish a physical dialogue that creates fragilities opening up to the sense of silence, to a molecular and emotional listening to the qualities of gesture. Drawing becomes an act of subtraction, suspending gestures by making them inoperative, with the aim of receiving any influences that may be suggested.


Drawings and figures present themselves as maps that we must first create and, later, observe not to follow a pre-established path but, rather, to mysteriously discover an artwork's "breath." Paradoxically, when observing a finished drawing or figure, we find...


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pp. 72-77
Launched on MUSE
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