Dancing at the Edge of the World
Appropriating the title of Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1989 non-fiction collection, Dancing at the Edge of the World, this group exhibition envisions a futuristic, alternative world where humankind speaks what Le Guin calls the ‘mother tongue’, the language that encourages relations, networks and exchanges, instead of the forked ‘father tongue’ – the language of power spoken by ‘Civilised Man’ who sees the rest of society in a terminal dichotomy of subject/object, self/other, male/female, mind/body, active/passive, Man/Nature, dominant/submissive. The exhibition itself will be a centre of subversive feminist activity where the body – fleshy, often leaky and sometimes desirous – is omnipresent but never separated from the mind. The artists in this exhibition invade their own privacy to explore embodiment and representation in an anarchic and self-realising strategy of empowerment. There will be artworks that have an eruptive feeling that echo the universes that can be found in Le Guin’s novels that yearn for a feminist or non-binary utopia – a new universalism of sorts, devoid of inequality, domination and exploitation and full of feminine pleasure.
At the centre of this exhibition will be a ‘drawing in space’ in the form of a king-sized canopy bed complete with a queen’s crown made by Charlotte Colbert that will be activated through performance on Wednesday, 26th February 2020. Florence Peake and Eve Stainton will perform a volcanic duet, using the intimacy of their lesbian polyamorous relationship to elevate the marginalised affection, sexuality, power and energy of the sensual and visceral queer body. The backdrop of this performative space will be a giant wall mural produced specifically for this exhibition by Saelia Aparicio. Another performance will take place on the opening night when Proudick (the artist duo and collaborative artistic enterprise founded by Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot) transform themselves into shopkeepers to man their designer shoe shop – that quintessential haven of aspirational feminine desire.
In this exhibition, to quote Le Guin one last time, these ten female-identifying artists ‘dance[ ]… at the edge of things’ in order to rid the old world of its populist, patriarchal tendencies that have persisted in the oppression and othering of humans that lay outside a narrow demographic of power and genius and to build a new world where marginalised communities are not always on the verge of becoming but have become fully actualised humans with all the rights and privileges of ‘Civilised Man’.