Sally Smart, ‘Cutting and Tearing (Scissors)’, 2015, Postmasters Gallery

The Choreography of Cutting (2014-16) sees an escalation of Sally Smart's interest in spatiality and the nature of creative process, and how it relates conceptually to the blackboard in combining writing and drawing, thinking and movement. Smart creates large installations of black (blackboard) and white (screen) walls. In
The Choreography of Cutting Smart looks to dance history, including her interest in Martha Graham and Pina Bausch, as well as early 20th Century avante garde performance and Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. In the immense 30 foot long black wall installation for Postmasters, Smart uses fragments of dance choreography, found dance documentation (degraded photographs), video and dance costume assemblages combined into an immersive choreographic dance lesson.
The new assemblage embroideries were created from digitally cutting up photographs of costumes designed by avantegarde artists of early modernism (Henri Matisse, Sonia Delaunay, Natalia Goncharova and Mikael Larionov), for the Ballets Russes. Smart's initial inspiration for this group of works came from learning that costumes of the Ballets Russes were often literally cut-up for resizing and economy.
Smart took to making her own versions of the costume by reconstituting fragmented images into new compositions rendered two dimensionally, and pinned (her familiar methodology) to the gallery wall. Her intervention in the embroidery assemblage, literally with sculptural elements and text, abstractly and psychologically suggest artefacts of performance and the trace of a body (in history, in culture.)
The embroideries were developed while on residency in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Living in South East Asia
Smart is perfectly situated to work with artisans and to conceptually explore her interest in shadow puppets through the wayang kulit tradition too.
This heightened her awareness of the Ballets Russes influence of the East on their Western representation (Orientalism). Smart was able to develop her assemblage costume cut-ups, with embroidery interpretation made by Indonesian artisans.

About Sally Smart

Australian, b. 1960, Quorn, South Australia, Australia, based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia