…we do not know – at least not yet – how to move freely.
— André Lepecki, adapted from Hannah Arendt
Amidst the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the movement of people continues to be determined and restricted by shifting policies. These policies differ depending on region, with a particular disparity in the present conditions of the UK and China. Whilst the UK has returned to a sense of ‘normality’, strict isolation control is still in place in China, and nucleic acid-certified QR codes are mandatory to enter and exit public spaces.
Contemplating the body’s relationship to power and control, the exhibition Gestures of Resistance, curated by Aisling Ward and Star Zhang, questions psychological freedom through a presentation of work by four interdisciplinary artists – Georgia Gardner, Jiayi Hu, Jinling Dong and Liliana Zaharia. All four artists embrace active embodiment – ranging from choreographed, to improvised, social intention to habit – to resist, heal and connect in times of crisis.
There are also many contrasting elements in the artists’ performative practices, which are arguably due to their individual circumstances and cultural environments. Jiayi and Jinling’s documented performances are reactive and have a raw, physical energy; whilst Georgia and Liliana’s research-led practices are introspective, internally rebellious and founded in care, social theory and recovery. Ultimately, all artists activate André Lepecki’s notion of choreo-politics through their strife towards moving freely and their questioning of the normality of the restrictive neo-liberal notion of productivity.
We ask, what methodologies do artists working with movement and with varying restrictions adopt, and how do these intersect and converse? Can we search for common ground between seemingly disparate societies – entangled cultural and political crossovers that lead us to discussions of mutual concerns and care in uncertain times?
Gestures of Resistance contemplates the significance of the socially-constructed body, to uncover the political momentum that the body can generate in contemporary society, and to establish a reflective context for our cultures that bears witness to the contingency of performing in a pandemic.
André Lepecki; Choreopolice and Choreopolitics: or, the task of the dancer. TDR/The Drama Review 2013; 57: 4 (220), 13–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/DRAM_a_00300