“I am making reference to my past life as a dancer who was forced to leave due to injury. Within this solo my labor gestures are minimal, but I endure and perform in a constant space of active pain. This tension is apparent in the piece, showcasing a sense of vulnerability and fragility as the body tires and endures pain.”
January 17, 2020 — August 30, 2020
Performance artist Brenden Fernandes uses art to confront issues related to the human body. His mixed-media objects and installations often include video, performance, sculpture, and photography.
The Chrysler Museum will present three of Fernandes’ 2014 works—Standing Leg, a film featuring Fernandes; Andrew’s Feet featuring the appendages of another dancer; and Mastered Form, a crystal sculpture.
A Canadian of Kenyan and Indian descent, Fernandes presents the body as a space of labor and addresses how his body is often exotified. His works also acknowledge larger issues of the relationship between the human form and power dynamics throughout histories of colonialism, post-colonial violence, sexuality, and struggle.
In Standing Leg, Fernandes performs with a ballet foot stretcher, a wooden device dancers use to manipulate and stretch the foot into the “ideal” arched shape. Referencing his former career as a dancer, the performance is beautiful yet awkward as Fernandes tries to perform with a heavy, clumsy appendage. The piece demonstrates how dancers have to re-form their bodies and often perform despite pain.
Andrew’s Feet features a close up of a dancer’s feet as he executes stretches both sitting and standing. Similar to the work featuring Fernandes, the performer is in the act of labor. Viewers witness the various ways he prepares his body for a concert, a situation most people will never see.
Mastered Form is a crystal sculpture of the artist’s arch that was made from the mold of the foot stretcher in the film. The apparatus is meant to create perfection. Fernandes felt the aesthetic allure of crystal reinforces the fetishization of the arch. Together, the film and sculpture highlight the hidden, and often painful, processes of performing the effortless beauty of dance.
This exhibition is organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.