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In her wide-ranging conceptual practice, Agatha Gothe-Snape often turns to improvisational performance. Working with ephemeral materials and subtle alterations to space, she uses language and choreography as her chosen mediums – to question our relationships to one another, to art, and to the contexts and histories in which all these are situated.
In past works, Gothe-Snape has explored the connections between body, time, space and movement, through instructional text and improvisation. Three Ways to Enter and Exit, for instance, is a visual score that dancer Brooke Stamp performed in 2011, which was re-presented in 2014 alongside a narrative about the relationship between performance, subjectivity, documentation and memory. Gothe-Snape also collaborated with other dancers to create a new iteration of the work, Other Ways to Enter and Exit, in response both to Stamp’s dance and to Gothe-Snape’s remembered account of it. Description served as another form of score, or as a script for dance, but rather than simply prescribing movement, the work offered up a class of ideas – thoughts or suggestions for many possible courses of action.
Emerging from this and other works made with Stamp as her investigative partner, for the 20th Biennale of Sydney, Gothe-Snape presents Here, an Echo, 2015–16. The artist has described the project as a choreography for the city – a score, performance and document – unfolding over three weekends during the exhibition. Taking place within a focused zone of activity, extending from Speakers’ Corner in The Domain to Wemyss Lane, Surry Hills, this expansive, non-monumental work, periodically enlivens urban spaces with site-specific happenings and discursive events. Together with a number of other collaborators, Stamp
and Gothe-Snape develop ‘performative interferences’ – literal and metaphorical markers that use language to choreograph the viewer, casting new light on quiet things in the process.
Each event begins its life as a proposition: a cue for action and a response to a specific location. The resulting performance that temporarily inhabits each site is then translated by Gothe-Snape as text, and, over time, these written accounts accumulate as a series of kōans, or poetic interludes, emerging from the fabric of the city itself. Whatever the final mode of encounter, Here, an Echo is a call to movement — if places don’t remain still, then why should you?
Agatha Gothe-Snape’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Free Speaking’, Studio 12, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2014); ‘Taking Form: Agatha Gothe-Snape, Sriwhana Spong’, Contemporary Project Space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2013); ‘Late Sculpture’, The Commercial Gallery, Sydney (2013); and ‘Inexactly THIS’, Kunstvlaai Festival of Independents, Amsterdam (2012). Recent selected group exhibitions include ‘Pavilion Without Walls’, Performa 15, New York (2015); 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014); ‘Trace: Performance and its Documents’, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2014); and ‘Melbourne Now’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013).