Wine and Swish: Rebecca Ann Hobbs’ Dancevideos in the Mall

Victoria Wynne-Jones


During the past decade, video works by Auckland-based artist Rebecca Ann Hobbs have enabled particular kinds of performance to make an appearance within art galleries in Aotearoa New Zealand. Hobbs’ dancefilms present ‘networked choreography,’ or choreographies that are self-taught following examples of dance content uploaded to the internet, from dancers and choreographers across the globe. Each evokes prior instances of spectatorship as well as the result of processes of research, mimicry, rehearsal, repetition, improvisation, collaboration and public performance. Hobbs’ Otara at Night(2011) and Mangere Mall (2011) image women and youths from South Auckland, an area where the majority of the population identify with at least one Pacific identity. Otara at Night presents a solo female dancer performing a Dance-hall style number, whereas Mangere Mall images a troupe or collective of young dancers Vogue-ing. Both works exhibit different ways in which choreography taken from popular dance styles might be utilised to perform gender identities: there is the pneumatic ‘wine’ of the empowered female Dance-hall performer and the ambiguously gendered, even queer ‘swish’ of the Voguer. Their locations mean each harks back to British artist Gillian Wearing’s Dancing in Peckham (1994) with its recording of an isolated individual performing an unabashed dance in a public and commercial environment to the bewilderment of spectators as passers-by. Yet each dancefilm also enacts diverse choreographies and complex relations. The terms of such relations include: dancers and dancers; dancers and choreographers; choreographers and archived dances; dancers and their own communities; acts of self-imaging and imagined audiences as well as dancers and spectators.


dancevideo; networked choreography; performativity; queer; Rebecca Ann Hobbs; Aotearoa New Zealand

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