This weekend Linder Sterling presented her UK premiere of The Ultimate Form, a physical collage that combined dance, costume, music and her provocative prints. Set in the gardens of The Hepworth Gallery, seven dancers from the Northern Ballet wound their way across the stage, demonstrating strength and poise in time to Stuart McCallum’s impressive score. Referred to as a “living collage”, Sterling’s works literally moved as they adorned Richard Nicoll’s carefully crafted costumes. Already presenting The Ultimate Form at her retrospective in Paris at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris earlier this year, the performance will next appear at the Tate St Ives early in 2014.
Responding to Barbara Hepworth’s request for her audiences to react physically to her works, The Ultimate Form is a celebration of that wish, and the dancers presented their composition beside a gallery attributed to Hepworth’s work. Sterling has long been working with collage, and many of her pieces are built on the layering of photographs and images, and this work continued that theme of layering and collaboration. Regardless of the cold, audiences applauded the piece that jumped between fast paced movements and slower balanced moments.
Sterling opened her solo exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield back in February, showcasing new work (alongside old work) that responded to Hepworth’s legacy. Inside the gallery space, audiences could view Sterling’s collages in lightboxes and listen to Hepworth’s voice at the same time. The Ultimate Form and the production of her collages require similar techniques, in that they are both precise and detailed, taking hours of preparation and planning.
Often combining music and performance within her artistic practice, Sterling felt she was able to connect to Hepworth’s statement that: “I am one of the few people in the world that can speak through marble.” The Ultimate Form is the perfect collaboration of Sterling’s intentional detail, her love of music and her interest in performance.
Summer 2013 opens at Tate St Ives, 18 May and includes many of Sterling’s collages.
The Ultimate Form was at The Hepworth Wakefield, 11 May.
Both images courtesy of Maurice Jones, The Ultimate Form, The Hepworth Wakefield, 11 May.