The Performance of Pictorialist Dance Photography

  • Karen Arnfred Vedel Theatre and Performance Studies, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen
Keywords: Dance pictorialism, modern ballet, material practices, Vera Fokina, Jenny Hasselquist, Mikhail Fokine, Waldemar Eide, Henry B. Goodwin, Harald Giersing

Abstract

Looking to the widely disseminated pictorialist photos of Waldemar Eide (Norway) and Henry B. Goodwin (Sweden) featuring the Russian ballerina Vera Fokina and the Swedish ballerina Jenny Hasselquist, the article is an enquiry into the role of the dancer in the pictorialist studio and the contribution of pictorialist photography to the turning point when the aesthetics of dance was being re-considered, the dancing body reconfigured, and photography emerged into an art form in its own right. Taking inspiration from the socio-material approach of photography historian Elizabeth Edwards, the analysis downplays the question of content in favor of a focus on the material practices in the photographic studio at the level of the photographer as well as the dancer-model posing before the camera. Placed within a discourse of new materialism, performance and performativity, it moreover considers the resulting photos as material objects that perform in continuing processes of meaning production. An example of the latter discussed at the end of the text is Harald Giersing’s abstract painting ’The Dancer’ based on a photo of Jenny Hasselquist as The Dying Swan.

Author Biography

Karen Arnfred Vedel, Theatre and Performance Studies, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen
Karen Vedel, Associate Professor, PhD, Theatre and Performance Studies, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen. Research areas include dance and theatre historiography, site specificity and cultural memory. Has since 1998 collaborated extensively in projects involving dance artists and scholars in the Nordic countries and South Africa. Author of among other titles “Corporeal Aesthetics and the Reception of African American Performing Arts around 1930” in Tania Ørum et al. (eds): A Cultural History of the Avant-Garde in the Nordic Countries 1925 - 1950. (Harrassovitz, in press). “Nordic Dance Spaces. Imagining and Practicing a Region” (editor and contributing author) (Ashgate, 2014). “Clothing the Suomussalmi Silent People. From Site Specific Performance to Ritually Informed Performative Event” in Christiane Brosius et al. (eds): Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual. Reflexivity, Media, and Visuality (Harrassovitz, 2009). Project manager of the network “Knowledge Production, Archives and Artistic Research” (2016 - ).

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ARCHIVAL MATERIAL

Contract signed by Mikhail Fokine and Fr. Brockenhuus Schack, Director, The Royal Danish Theater, 25 April, 1918, Theatre Journal 71/1918, The Danish National Archives.

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Michel Fokine and Vera Fokina. List of performances. Tss, 1918-1928. 1 folder. Series: III. Biographical material (40). Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942. Michel Fokine Papers. Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University. http://oasis.lib. harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~hou00221 (15 September 2017).

Stureson (on behalf of Mikhail Fokine). 1918. Telegram addressed to The Royal Danish Theatre. The National Archive. The Royal Theatre. Incoming documents nr. 55. 1918. PHOTOGRAPHS AND

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Giersing, Harald. 1918. Danserinde. Colour postcard. Original in Museum Sønderjylland. Oil on compoboard; 122 x 91 cm. http://www.museumsonder- jylland.dk/SIDERNE/Museerne/Kunst-Tonder/04c09-April2003.html (15 September 2017).

Giersing, Harald. 1918. Fokin og Fokina. Oil on compoboard; 150 x 115 cm. In Lennart Gottlieb. 1981. Portrætter og gurbilleder af Harald Giersing 1881-1927. København: Statens Museum for Kunst.

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Royal Swedish Opera Archives https://www.operan.se/arkivet/ (15 September 2017).

DIGI, Nationabibliotekets Digitala Samlingar. https://digi.kansalliskirjasto. (15 September 2017).

Svenska Dagstidningar online. http://tidningar.kb.se (15 September 2017).

Published
2018-01-27
How to Cite
Vedel, K. (2018). The Performance of Pictorialist Dance Photography. Nordic Theatre Studies, 29(1), 138-161. https://doi.org/10.7146/nts.v29i1.103314