Magazine article Artforum International

Meg Stuart

Magazine article Artforum International

Meg Stuart

Article excerpt

In her latest solo performance, choreographer Meg Stuart gives new meaning to the phrase "body language." Not the leg-crossing, tie-straightening, behavioral kind that we might find in Pina Bausch's dramatically staged battles of the sexes in the '80s, nor even the speeded-up eloquence of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's brutally beautiful body phrasing of '90s Gen Xers in Europe. Rather, Stuart's Soft Wear [first draft], 2000, only fourteen minutes long, is body language for the Internet crowd, for those who prefer morphing to metaphor, multitasking to single-channel vision, and flickering pictures that never hold still to the slow pan of a steady camera.

In Soft Wear, Stuart stands in the beam of a bright spotlight. Her body is precisely articulated: Triceps run along the bias against well-constructed shoulders; tendons stand out like scaffolding from jaw to sternum. Barefoot, wearing dark boot-cut stretch pants and a pink capsleeve T-shirt, she seems to just stand there doing nothing. But she's not: She is making movements so tiny that they are almost invisible. The viewer suddenly realizes that the twitch of a muscle in Stuart's back is the beginning of a motion that ripples down her arm and extends to the fingers of one hand. What at first passes for a smile is really a specific gesture: a teeth-baring puffing back of lips that has nothing to do with emotion, serving only to shift the locus of the action.

Concentrating on these details has its rewards. …

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