Since her first performance in 2010, Sophie Dupont has used her body as an instrument and premise for an existential and poetic investigation of what it means to be human.
In her ritualised and strictly choreographed works, the artist’s background in dance and painting can clearly be sensed. Her performative work is often physically and mentally demanding, and based on entities like weight, balance and mass, just as central issues in painting, like the figure-ground relationship and abstraction and figuration, are brought into play. Influenced by 20th-century performance art and the avantgarde, as well as ‘primitive’ art, psychology and Eastern philosophy, these elements are used to explore reflections on the ways we are present in the world.
This Will Also Change is Sophie Dupont’s first major solo presentation. The conceptual framework is the movement between the horizontal and the vertical, a classical principle of composition, which here becomes a metaphor for our outer and inner life. Or, in the words of the artist, “as two directions we are eternally torn between – and understand ourselves through”. It is at the intersection of the two that Dupont presents a series of works that both expand upon and add new elements to her previous practice.
As a development of the costumes and props Dupont creates for her performances, a sculptural processing and fragmentation of the body and psyche forms the thematic focus of the first section of the exhibition. Especially in the central work in the exhibition, which is eponymous with its title, and functions as an independent sculpture, as well as figuring in a new performance on the opening night. Inspired by the cosmic wheel, the work is in the shape of a carousel with five figures to which body parts of a more or less abstract nature are attached. Each of the figures incarnates archetypal emotions – anger, desire, love, fear and joy – feelings constantly within us but elicited or provoked in different constellations that determine the ways we act. In more senses than one, the work thus embodies the understanding that no state of being is ever static.
As a counterbalance to the metaphorical turning of the carousel, the exhibition includes a presentation of Dupont’s ongoing series of works dedicated to breathing, which she initiated in 2011. In different materials, selected according to the geographical context in which the work is performed, the artist notes every breath within a specific period of time, like the time between sunrise and sunset, or the length of a reel of paper. Whilst the action in the performative situation creates a meditative space of intense presence, the things left behind remain as bare registrations of life lived – of the constant rhythm of breathing in a chaotic world of relationships, feelings and impressions.
In the exhibition Dupont outlines some of the most essential components and conditions of existence. Where the precise lines of horizontality and verticality should be drawn to achieve balance is left up to the individual viewer.
Sophie Dupont (b. 1975) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2007, and previously studied at London Contemporary Dance School. Dupont has performed and exhibited at a large number of museums, festivals and galleries in Denmark and abroad, including the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen; New Studio, London; Petra Gut Contemporary, Zürich; Forma y Sustancia, Guatemala City; Art Claims Impulse, Berlin; and EXTRA Festival Internacional de Performance, Mexico City.