Dance Theatre Journal writes, “Brandel’s work has a startling raw honesty…ambitious and oblique”
This is a retrospective exhibition of images, videos and text from twenty five years of Tara Brandel's choreography. With reoccurring themes of gender, sexuality and strong female archetypes, Tara's dance is influenced by her time spent in Berlin, London, San Francisco and West Cork. With an underlying thread of feminism and more than a passing nod to gay culture, this exhibition encapsulates Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre's Dancer In Residence, Tara Brandel's ongoing interest in creating non-normative and diverse images of the body and especially the female body on stage.
A feminist lesbian artist living in a rural setting, Tara has an audacious, bold, overtly political, genderqueer, questioning sensibility. A native of West Cork, growing up with the influences of a strong artistic lesbian presence of West Cork in the 1960's and 70's, Tara's early work has the radicalism of embodying the lesbian body in a rural setting. It is this type of backstory - of artists audaciously making visibly lesbian work in a rural setting – that has been part of the cultural shift that has led to a yes vote for marriage equality.
Her local and international experiences of working in West Cork, London, Berlin and San Francisco come together in this exhibition showing her bodily experience of celebrating and exploring bodies that are not usually seen on stage – with themes around disability, gender, and visibility.
*Parents are advised that this exhibition contains many non-normative images of the female body and explores themes around gender, sexuality and disability.
It is recommended that parents read the Artist's Statement before bringing children in, so they can make informed choices and invite dialogue and questions.
The central theme running through all my work is visibility - making the non-normative visible on stage - questioning who and what is allowed on stage and questioning the aesthetic norms in contemporary dance performance.
With Integrated dance companies such as Croi Glan, these aesthetic norms are constantly being questioned, as people with disabilities and diverse bodies stretch the range of what is considered beautiful and who should be allowed to dance.
With inclusive dance groups such as West Cork Inclusive Dance (WCID), the overriding theme is anyone can dance! All bodies, old, young, fat, thin, athletic and those with limited mobility are celebrated as beautiful and essential to the performance.
With a lot of my earlier work I wanted to make my own experience as a lesbian dancer visible on stage. The lesbian experience and lesbian culture has been hugely under-represented in contemporary dance. I wanted to address this invisibility by making work about my own experiences of love, sexuality, family, and desire, as well as my experiences of homophobia and the affects of not having marriage equality at the time.
The images in this exhibition have been mainly created as publicity shots to encapsulate the central theme of each dance work. Like haikus written on the body, the images reveal the core sensation, emotion, or naked truth of each piece of choreography.
In these images, vulnerability, exposure, primordial creature, gender, ancient archetype, fragility, strength, and our physical connection to the natural world are all explored through the female body.
I welcome feedback, comments and questions. Please feel free to contact me on my Dancer in Residence facebook page https://www.facebook.com/uillinnwestcorkartscentre.tarabrandel
Tara Brandel is a native of West Cork. Brought up in Ballydehob, she moved to London as a teenager where she trained as a contemporary dancer at the Laban Centre, London and with Steve Paxton, Nigel Charnick and Lloyd Newsom. She ran her dance company Mna Rua in London 1990-94, and from 1994-99 lived and worked in West Cork and Berlin. Living in San Francisco 1999-2005, she studied Integrated Dance with Axis Dance Company and Alito Alessi, and was a Co-Director of 848 Community Space, San Francisco from 2002 - 2004.
Returning home to West Cork in 2006, she set up Croi Glan Integrated Dance company, based in Ballydehob. Croi Glan is a professional contemporary dance company using both disabled and non-disabled dancers. which highlights the cutting edge artistic value of creating performance with diverse bodies by producing high calibre work which tours nationally and internationally. Tara is currently Artistic Director of Croi Glan and has a year long Residency funded by Arts Council and Cork County Council at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre.
Tara's work has been performed at Firkin Crane, Triskel Arts Centre, and Cork Opera House, Cork; Dublin Fringe, Project Arts Centre, Draoicht, and Civic Theatre, Dublin; Stukke Theatre and Ponderosa Festival, Germany; San Francisco International Arts Festival, 848 Community Space, Jon Sims Centre, SF Lesbian and Gay Dance Festival, Sky Dancers, Dance Mission Theatre, and Performance Showcase, San Francisco; South Bank Centre, Spring Loaded, The Place Theatre, Oval House and Chisenhale Dance Space, London, as well as Ottawa, Canada; Alice Springs, Australia; Hawaii and Minneapolis.
She has danced for Ka Rustler (Berlin), Emilyn Claid, (London) Jo Krieter(SF), and Kim Epifano(SF) and has won numerous awards from the Arts Council of Ireland, London Arts Board, Zellerbach Foundation and Theatre Bay Area.
This exhibition comprises a series of new works especially made for Uillinn including the premiere of significant new film work Silver House, which was made on location in Goleen, West Cork in the spring of 2015. This work features a collaboration with composer Susan Stenger who has incorporated the sounds of the West Cork landscape and the house where the work was filmed to create a new audio composition. Silver House features Eilish Lavelle who has created a unique environment, where she designed and modified her house and garden over a forty-year period. Modernist design references are transported to a rural, coastal environment to articulate a dialogue between nature and culture.
Gannon has responded to the changing natural light within the gallery to create three large sculptural drawings which occupy the double height gallery wall. A nine-paneled screen sculpture demarcates the space between the film and the drawings. A white fur bench responds to Adolf Loos’ 1903 fur bedroom. The audience is treated to tactile sensuality when viewing the film from this seated position.
Gannon has exhibited in spaces including The Glucksman Gallery, Cork (2014); David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2013); Galerie Mor-Charpentier, Paris (2011), David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco (2011) and Sketch Gallery, London (2009); Gasworks, London (2007) and Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane (2003).
Silver House Film Notes
The house: a home, once a horse-stable, transformed in the 1970's into a dream of the future; floor to ceiling windows, glass and chrome furniture, bathroom walls cover in mirrored silver paper; a film set awaiting a narrative. Forty years on, its once clean minimalist lines have softened, yielding to the complexities time and life produce.
Exterior: a house, a courtyard, ancient trees, a field sweeping down to the Atlantic Ocean. Ships pass on the horizon, their bulk a counterpoint to Mizen Head, the last land mass in Europe seen by seafarers. A lighthouse – Fastnet Rock – pulses in the distance.
Duration: 20 minutes
Filmed in Goleen, West Cork in 2015
Camera: Laura Gannon
Composition: Susan Stenger
Sound recordist: Danny Crowley
Sound design: Laura Gannon and Susan Stenger
Editing: Laura Gannon and Jaime Estrada-Torres
Sound mastering: Len Arran
Featuring: Eilish Lavelle
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