Our ECA web student intern, Ellie Powell, reports on a collaboration between ECA and Edinburgh College students at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Ellie is a final year Intermedia student.
Saturday 12th December saw BA (Hons) Performance Costume students and Dance students from Edinburgh College performing at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Lead by Megan Baker (programme director BA (Hons) Performance Costume) third year ECA students have been collaborating with the dancers to create costumes and choreography that respond to the ARTIST ROOMS: Roy Lichtenstein show which is currently on display at Modern One.
The project follows on from EPISODES, a similar collaboration between Performance Costume and Dance students in response to the ARTIST ROOMS: Louise Bourgeois exhibition, A Woman Without Secrets, at Modern One in 2013/14.
Lichtenstein’s (1923–1997) paintings are by now synonymous with Pop art, but the diversity of the ARTIST ROOMS exhibition is fascinating and allowed for each student to find something that interested them and suited their own practice. The sheer variety in the costumes reflects this.
The final fittings took place in a corridor off one of the main galleries. As an outsider it looks like (organised?) chaos as a sea of dancers were fitted into costumes. At a glance the inspiration drawn from the exhibition was evident in just the colours and choice of patterns – red, yellow and blue are prominent along with quite graphic patterns. As the dancers practice or chatted there was the occasional yell of ‘I need help sewing a button!’ or ‘Where are the flesh coloured pants?’
Back in the studio I asked Auguste Greiciute and Yan Smiley to talk me through their costumes and design process. All students were asked to design four costumes, of which one would be fabricated and used. Both Auguste and Yan describe the project as exciting albeit challenging – to produce costumes for a ‘real’ performance in a public space is an amazing opportunity. The chance to explore new ways of working has also been beneficial.
Auguste opted to ‘create an interpretation of his works if he’d been working today’ and the patterns and structure of her costume derive from enlarging common computer icons to reveal the pixels from which they are made. The interlocking structures she produced as the basis for the final patterns are beautiful. Again the colours are drawn from Lichtenstein’s work, a rich yellow and deep blue.
Meanwhile, Yan focused on the psychology behind Lichtenstein’s work and his fascination with the ‘ideal’ or manufactured body to produce a body suit in flesh tones with highlighted areas and added limbs in deep blue velvet.
The performances took place within the main gallery spaces, with dancers moving in front of and around Lichtenstein’s work. Whilst students regularly take part in ‘live’ or external projects in collaboration with external organisations or other programmes, this is perhaps quite unusual in its blurring of boundaries between art, design and performance.