TABLEAU VIVANT: A WANDERING RETROSPECTIVE
Anna Barham /// Winnie Cott /// The Hal an Tow /// Bruce McLean / Nice Style: The World’s First Pose Band ///Mistick Krewe of Comus /// The New Orleans Society for Tableau Vivant /// Pablo Picasso / Erik Satie / Léonide Massine ///Audrey Reynolds /// Tai Shani
Presented as part of Prospect 1.5 New Orleans
November 6th, 2010, Julia Street, 6-9pm
November, 13 2010, St. Claude Arts District, 6 -9pm
Tableau Vivant: A Wandering Retrospective presents a selection of historic tableaux vivants alongside specially conceived tableaux by Tai Shani (UK), Audrey Reynolds (UK), Winnie Cott (FR), Anna Barham (UK) and The New Orleans Society for Tableau Vivant.
The show takes place on a flat bed truck that will proceed slowly up Julia St., making stops between the river and St. Charles Avenue. At each stop, a different tableau vivant will be performed. The show will be repeated the following weekend in the St. Claude Arts District.
Tableau Vivant translates literally as “living picture”: a group or individual in a carefully arranged pose that is held for a period of time. It frequently includes elaborate sets, costumes, props and sometimes music. Performed variously as a parlour game, carnival attraction, pageant, pedagogic tool or propaganda image, tableaux vivants usually illustrate popular mythologies, famous paintings, classical, archetypal or historic events, and are most often performed within the context of informal social gatherings. They are a way of stepping into the role of an historic figure, enhancing self-image or manipulating public identity; of bringing to life significant scenes in a subjective context, or revisiting a snapshot of the past and re-committing it to memory.
As well as having a strong relationship to the still image, the tableaux vivant is a living thing perpetually situated in a morphological state between statue and movement. The impossibility of holding a certain pose for a long stretch of time means that the tableau vivant can never embody the stillness to which it apparently aspires – rather, is time stretched and slowed.
Locating the project in New Orleans, a city ingrained with the composite histories of popular performance traditions, Tableau Vivant: A Wandering Retrospective also considers the history of tableau vivant within the frame of popular folk performance. Tableau Vivant: A Wandering Retrospective inhabits a space between the histories of high art and popular entertainment: illuminating the nature of the tableaux but also suggesting an alternative history for contemporary visual art performance.
An Overview of Presented Tableaux:
Winnie Cott’s tableau Meanwhile… The Next Day records the first public film screening; an iconic moment of crystallized potential re-created through the lens of the present.
A scene from Ovid’s epic Metamorphosis is lifted from an illustration of the tableau a The Mystick Krewe of Comus’ 1878 Tableau Ball on that theme. Comus was the first of the old-line Mardi Gras float krewes.
The tableau of Saint George defeating the Dragon is taken from the ancient Cornish Hal an Tow, in which song is sung, and the two characters spring forward and freeze in battle mode: consigning the image to historic record.
Anna Barham’s tableau presents the shape-shifting Proteus; a Greek God with the ability to tell the future: but continually evading capture by changing from one form into another. His transformation is suspended in live tableau, and he becomes a tangible portal to the future.
Tai Shani transposes the Orphic myth to the golden hills of California. On the edge of the Underworld, Orpheus is both a Panaflex camera and his muse Eurydice. Orpheus records himself and like the myth he becomes immortal yet simultaneously destroys himself forever.
Audrey Reynolds’ Une Conclusion will recreate part of a sequence of pre-arrival whilst holding onto the relevant emotions – hope, tedium, anxiety.
A tableau specially conceived by the New Orleans Tableau Vivant Society that will feature outlandish creatures, fire and the fall of Rome; It is entitled The Flora and Fauna of Ceasar’s Nose as he Looked Over his Right Shoulder at Sunset.
Other presentations include a re-creation of Bruce McLean’s project with Nice Style: the World’s First Pose Band, High Up on a Baroque Palazzo, somewhere between a library of rock star gestures and sculpture; and a scene from the 1924 tableau vivant ballet Mercure created by Pablo Picasso and Eric Satie, with choreography by Massine, originally commissioned by Etienne de Beaumont for one of his extravagant parties.
Tableau Vivant: A Wandering Retrospective is curated by Rosie Cooper (UK) and produced by New Orleans Airlift.
A small souvenir publication will be available to the audience on the route. It will include special contributions from Rose English, Mel Brimfield, Aura Satz, Sally O’Reilly and Henri Schindler.