Emily Roysdon: Pause, Pose, Discompose
September 21 – December 8
Free and Open to the Public
Curated by Andy Campbell
Pause: mid-action, a moment of reflection, an element in a sequence
Pose: mimicry, the history of representation, my body in response
Discompose: capacity, frame, re-purpose, imagine, apart
Emily Roysdon’s practice is rooted in the primacy of movement: how people move socially, politically, formally, publicly, aesthetically, and experimentally. Her interdisciplinary process-based practice uses movement to theorize collectivity; photography to arrest movement; performance to collaborate in space and time; and printmaking to layer and interfere with reproduction. Commissioned by the VAC, Roysdon’s video and photographic installation Pause, Pose, Discompose speaks of:
:discomposed social space using 'choreographic thinking' and photographic processes as formal and conceptual frames. Of struggle and improvisation. Of minor theatres + queer documents. Of publics. Of kinetic excess. Of undergrounds. Of exhibiting time. Of making time. Of “Ecstatic Resistance” (see Emily Roysdon). Of dance. Of formal concerns as truly political concerns. Of un-working, un-making, un-mooring. Of horizons. Of a “necessary openness to resistance, interpretation, and improvisation” (see Robin Bernstein). Of time: a question: is it always major, or can it also be minor? Of choreography and space. Of performance spaces. Of importance regarding queer seeing. Of love as political necessity. Of repetition as instances of difference. Of choreographic thinking. Of tightness and looseness (see Erving Goffman). Of moving (affective) images. Of discomposure and thick history. Of those other kinds of moving images. Of strangers. Of the personal is formal. Of capacity to re-purposing. Of the body in response. Of looking backwards. Of transitions. Of grammars rarely imagined. Of how “The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything” (see Gertrude Stein).
Stockholm and New York-based artist Emily Roysdon harnesses a vocabulary of movement to describe larger social procedures: if choreography encompasses the sequential movement of bodies in space, then political protests, for example, are a piece of dance history. The question is not what, per se, constitutes the score of social living, but rather, what are the seemingly infinite possibilities of a score? In order to begin addressing this question, Roysdon transforms the “white cube” into a “black box,” the idealized space for theatrical performance, and expands it to include the Vaulted Gallery. Roysdon creates a space ripe for the performance of choreographies of love and anger, of posing and pausing, where group and individual movements are privileged at different times. Roysdon’s practice is rooted in the primacy of movement: how people move socially, politically, formally, publicly, aesthetically, and experimentally; and her work is motivated by collaboration and by a desire to produce contexts, as well as projects. In interacting with Austin’s various communities, Roysdon engages in choreographic thinking and living.
Roysdon asks, “How does thinking choreographically facilitate understandings of transition from one state to another, one form to another?” Resistance is a key term, as it is a necessary component of movement itself. Resistance is also an embodied and daily reality. Roysdon intervenes by insisting that the personal is not only political, but formal as well, by understanding that how we use space constitutes the nature of our political selves; this is a marked turn towards discomposure. As Roysdon states, “With every passing, any awareness of time, the choreographic discomposes the space around us, the social, asking how we arrange our bodies in response.”
Generous support for Emily Roysdon’s exhibition comes from Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth, Stratus Properties, and the W Hotel. Additional thanks go to Jeff Dell, The Texas State Visiting Artist Committee, and Chelsea Weathers.
Emily Roysdon is a New York and Stockholm-based artist and writer. Her work is interdisciplinary, and recent projects have taken the form of performance, photographic installations, printmaking, text, video, curation, and collaboration. Roysdon recently developed the concept “ecstatic resistance” to talk about the impossible and imaginary in politics. The concept debuted with simultaneous shows at Grand Arts in Kansas City and X Initiative in New York. She is editor and co-founder of the queer feminist journal and artist collective, LTTR. Her many collaborations include costume design for Levi Gonzalez, Vannessa Anspaugh, and Faye Driscoll, as well as lyric writing for The Knife, and Brooklyn-based JD Samson and MEN.
Andy Campbell is an art historian and senior lecturer at Texas State University, where he teaches courses on contemporary art, feminism and visual representation, bad taste, film, and graphic novels. He is also an independent critic and curator.