Xavier Le Roy: A History of Movement

Monday, November 02, 2015

The upcoming Kaldor Public Art Project 31, Temporary Title, 2015 with French choreographer Xavier Le Roy, is the latest in a rich history of Kaldor Public Art Projects involving movement and performance.

Le Roy’s background as a molecular biologist rather than a classical dancer affords him a unique approach to dance and choreography, leading to works that are experimental and challenging in nature. “In 1987 I started work on my thesis for my PhD in molecular and cellular biology. At the same time, I began to take two dance classes a week.”


One of the earliest of these movement-based projects took place in 1976, when cellist Charlotte Moorman collaborated with Nam June Paik for Kaldor Public Art Project 5. Taking place as an exhibition and series of over 40 performances across both Adelaide and Sydney, the work produced by Paik, an installation artist, and Moorman, a musician, pushed the boundaries of performative practice.

Moorman captured the attention of the media as she performed naked with a cello carved from ice, smothered in 13 kilograms of chocolate fudge, and suspended from balloons drifting above the Sydney Opera House forecourt.


Yet another early project, Gilbert and George made quite an impression during Kaldor Public Art Project 3 with their 1973 durational performances at the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Painted with bronze-coloured metallic powder mixed with Vaseline, the artists slowly repeated a series of gestures while circling and singing, using a table as a plinth. This work, titled The Singing Sculpture, was an early incarnation of Gilbert and George’s concept of ‘living sculptures’.


For Project 12 in Sydney, Vanessa Beecroft’s VB40, 1999 used nude and semi-nude women, preened and presented in formation. At the Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 models stood for a period of two-and-a-half hours for each performance; positioned by Beecroft and following rules of deportment, they conformed to an overall configuration. Drawing from the iconography of fashion, film and painting, they became a collective portrait of idealised femininity and desire within a consumer culture.


Kaldor Public Art Project 2713 Rooms brought together 13 famous artists and more than 100 performers to present an innovative group exhibition of ‘living sculpture’ within 13 purpose-built rooms.

In their work Coexisting, Brisbane performance art duo Clark Beaumont shared a plinth for hours at a time. The performance explored ideas about the body, collaboration, relationships between women, and performance in a gallery context.