Context, Discipline, and Understanding: The Poetics of Shelley Lasica’s Gallery-Based Work

Erin Brannigan


My current research project, Dance and the Visual Arts: Composition : Experiment : Sensation, acknowledges recent and important curatorial, creative and theoretical work and moves from critique (Brannigan 2015) to productive propositions at the point where dance meets its own limits as it interacts with the visual arts. Looking at specific artists and their works from across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this project calls for a reappraisal of the contributions of dance to the contemporary arts; not to lend it legitimacy from fields external to it, but to argue for its potency within the broader creative milieu of the past 150 years as a unique site of innovation and experimentation that is grounded in our corporeality. My focus is on the tensor point between the expanded media of the art form of dance, and its corporeal, disciplinary fundamentals in the current dance-visual arts dialogue. Depth of disciplinary knowledge calls for attention to specific media. Returning to the processes, resources and strategies that belong to dance is an important part of the job at hand, ‘to make a much better fist of accounting … for the operations of disciplinary difference within the generally defined arts and humanities.’ The notion of ‘poetics’ has helped me to develop an approach to this aspect of the work. English poet and academic Jeremy Prynne refers to ‘poetic thought’ as a model of thinking that is not bound to a singular discipline (ie. the thinking that poets do [596]) but is characterized as ‘poetic,’ being rigorous thinking bent to a particular purpose. So it is active, processual, directed, and applied. What I believe Prynne is describing is an experimental thought practice that supports the production of experimental compositions, and I believe those practices and outcomes can be applied to any or multi-mediums. Prynne’s notion of poetic thought and the associated understanding of creative practice will be employed to discuss the work of Shelley Lasica, an Australian choreographer who has been occupying this creative territory for around 30 years is Australian choreographer Shelley Lasica who created her first work for a gallery space in 1986.


dance; visual arts; gallery; Biennale of Sydney; Shelley Lasica

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