MUMA – Shelley Lasica: performance / exhibition

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Shelley Lasica: WHEN I AM NOT THERE

16–27 August 2022

Shelley Lasica is one of Australia’s most influential choreographers and artists. Reflecting on her four-decade career, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) presents a major new commission and the first curated survey of her choreographic practice in the form of a performance-exhibition and publication. This occasion marks a number of firsts: the first survey of an Australian choreographer by a museum and the first monograph of a contemporary Australian choreographer.

For two weeks only, WHEN I AM NOT THERE will see daily performances during museum opening hours, where eight dancers share MUMA’s gallery spaces with objects such as costumes, sculptures, video and sound compositions.

Consolidating ideas and experiments that Lasica has been developing throughout her career, WHEN I AM NOT THERE will contribute to discussions around choreography in gallery and museum settings and activate the tension between what it means ‘to perform’ and ‘to exhibit’.

Since her first solo works made in the 1980s, Lasica has experimented with the possibilities of dance, particularly by examining the various contexts in which it occurs. Her work has been presented in artist-run spaces, commercial galleries and museums as much as in conventional theatre spaces, nightclubs, rehearsal rooms and town halls.

Lasica’s particular interest in the institutions and contexts of art extends from her close engagement with other disciplines. Her body of work is uniquely characterised by the conversations it holds with the traditions and practices of theatre, fashion, installation, painting, sound, sculpture, literature, architecture and dance itself, to present a non-exclusive list. These conversations serve to create both a physical and relational infrastructure within her practice.

The new work has been developed during Melbourne’s lockdown with ten cross-generational artists, including dancers LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Luke Fryer, Timothy Harvey, Rebecca Jensen, Megan Payne, Lana Šprajcer and Oliver Savariego, composer François Tétaz and consultants artist Lisa Radford and architect Colby Vexler.

MUMA’s Senior Curator Hannah Mathews has worked closely with Lasica to devise the performance-exhibition. The new commission has also been supported by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council; the Art Gallery of New South Wales support partner Atelier; and the Australia Council of the Arts. It will be presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in May 2023.

Shelley Lasica: WHEN I AM NOT THERE is realised as part of Precarious Movements: Choreography and the Museum, an Australian Research Council Linkage Project that involves the following partners: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; MUMA, Melbourne; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Tate UK; and UNSW Sydney. It provides this overarching project with critical and situated research focused on the curation and practice of choreography in the museum environment.

WHEN I AM NOT THERE will be accompanied by a substantial monograph published by MUMA and Monash University Publishing that features new writing from Erin Brannigan, Lisa Catt, Justin Clemens, Hannah Mathews, Claudia La Rocco, Robyn McKenzie and Zoe Theodore. Positioning Lasica’s oeuvre within Australian and international contexts and exploring her distinct methodologies, it includes a comprehensive chronology and extensive documentation drawn from her archive.

Shelley Lasica: WHEN I AM NOT THERE is part of a MUMA series that presents the work of influential Australian artists in depth.

Shelley Lasica is based in Naarm/Melbourne and has been working nationally and internationally for over four decades. Her practice has consistently engaged with the contexts and situations of presenting dance, choreography and performance. Interested in the collective and interdisciplinary possibilities of choreography, she performs her solo and ensemble works in dialogue with designers, writers and visual artists.

Lasica’s choreographic works have been shown within visual art, theatre, and festival contexts. These include the Melbourne Festival; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Chunky Move, Melbourne; Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Artspace, Sydney; Centre nationale de la danse, Paris; Siobhan Davies Studios, London; Dance Massive, Melbourne; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne.

Presenting work in indeterminate spaces is also an integral part of her choreographic practice. Throughout her career, Lasica has organised and participated in numerous residencies, exchanges and mentorship programs in Australia and overseas. She teaches choreography to dance and visual arts students both independently and within institutions. In 2021, she received a prestigious Australia Council Fellowship for Dance.

Shelley Lasica: WHEN I AM NOT THERE opens 16 until 27 August 2022 at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Ground Floor, Building F, Monash University, Caulfield Campus, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East.

Ngoon Godjin | Thank You

First languages – Monash University Collection

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