Magda Matwiejew | En Pointe
28.07.10 to 21.08.10
Magda Matwiejew exhibition En Pointe at Karen Woodbury Gallery is an exhibition comprising of a film projection and twelve digital prints. In a career based in a painting tradition, Matwiejew has successfully re-invented her practice in the past six years, now exclusively working with digital media. Significantly recognised for her award winning film Insect (2007), Matwiejew has exhibited widely internationally at various experimental film festivals.
En Pointe features her film Pretty Ballerina, her seventh film. Pretty Ballerina focuses on ideas of beauty and pain. Centred around a ballerina’s journey in mastering the art of ballet, the protagonist experiences much joy and freedom through the practice of dancing. Over time, this joy is slowly destroyed as the ballerina descends into excruciating pain while trying to perfect her En Pointe technique, ultimately becoming trapped by her ballet shoes.
Notions of perfection, pleasure, distortion and suffering are all explored within Matwiejew’s work. The classical dance of ballet, characterised by precision of movement and elaborate formal gestures, is examined as a vehicle to explore the way humans extend and place unreal demands on the body’s limits in order to express higher values. In this way the depiction of the ballerina appears to exist beyond mortal expectation embodying an ethereal grace.
In Matwiejew’s characteristic fashion, the film is set outside of real time, spanning over centuries in an effort to convey the history of the ballet dancing tradition and ongoing obsession for an ideal dancing perfection. Chronological slippages are signaled throughout the film with drifting transient clock faces that indicate the year in order to contextualise certain scenes.
Pretty Ballerina is partly animated with live footage both still and moving such as time-lapse footage of clouds and snippets from a performance of Swan Lake. The combination of a range of interweaving source material successfully creates an integrated whole. Removed from everyday life, this period style genre reveals a modern emotion and is offered as a form of escape through the entrancing fluidity and enticing seduction of the filmic experience. Not intended as a literal discourse about ballet in itself, Pretty Ballerina borders on a number of territories and is rather a meditation on ideas of female beauty, employing ballet shoes as a metaphor for these ideas.