As you enter the Roof Studio at Siobhan Davies Dance, you encounter a subtle array of objects distributed seemingly randomly across the space. Some are objects you might expect to encounter in this setting; a slightly dishevelled rolled black foam mat and an electric heater, for example. Others seems more alien, like the floppy, malleable looking ceramic that hangs over the side of the heater and the small video work propped up in the corner. All of course belong here in the context of Katinka Bock’s exhibition ‘Mesonya/’, part of the newly launched ‘Traces Commissions’ programme.
The ‘Traces’ programme is a new initiative from Programme Director Lauren A Wright to commission artists to respond to the Siobhan Davies Dance building and the practices which take place within it. With the dialogue around dance in the gallery becoming increasingly well-trodden, this programme seems to offer a refreshing new methodology for creating a dialogue between dance and the visual arts.
Beyond the sculptures in the centre of the beautiful wood-clad Roof Studio, is a small unassuming sink in the far corner. Watery lines of paint; greens, purples and yellow are just visible on the surface of the white porcelain. You’d be forgiven for completely overlooking this subtle intervention but in actual fact it represents the first of many exchanges which take place in Bock’s exhibition. This particular sink came from the art room at Charlotte Sharman Primary School, whose playground is visible from the studio’s window, in exchange for Bock installing a sculpture at the school only accessible to teachers and students. The work is at once a nod to the concept of the artist’s studio and material support for dancers after a long studio session. It also serves as a wonderful introduction to Bock’s expanded interpretation of the Siobhan Davies building, taking into account both the interior and exterior influences that create its unique atmosphere and identity. This is further evidenced in the sink’s clear plastic plumbing which snakes downstairs and out on to the exterior of the building, eventually draining into the forecourt; a subtle, unobtrusive water feature. Tracing the pipes around the architecture offers you a new and strangely entertaining experience of the building.
The exchange continues when the work diverges with the artists who occupy it on a daily basis. As I view the work on its opening day, a quiet Saturday at the end of September, there is a class taking place in the studio below. The thumping of feet and bodies on the studio floor creates a ghostly soundtrack as I walk around the Roof Studio, the sculptures evolving and shifting in my mind, as I imagine the bodies that might leap and roll around them on a typical day.
It is exciting to see a programme of new commissions which challenges the way in which the visual arts encounters the practice of dance. The beauty of Bock’s work here in particular, is its all-encompassing approach to Siobhan Davies Dance as an organisation, a building and a working studio. Through a process of exchanges and interventions Bock succeeds in creating a new and exciting dialogue with both the audience and those who use the studio that will no doubt continue to develop over the course of the exhibition.