Feminine Futures – The Membrane of the Dream I / II
Museum Langmatt, Switzerland

Curated by Adrien Sina

Part I: 26 April – 30 August, 2015
Part II: 6 September – 29 November, 2015

Feminine Futures curated by Adrien Sina, was first exhibited in New York in 2009 during the PERFORMA Biennial directed by RoseLee Goldberg. All along its conception process it contributed to the historical sections of ‘Art, Lies and Videotape: Exposing Performance’ (2003) at Tate Liverpool, ‘Traces du Sacré’ (2008) and ‘Danser sa vie’ (2011) at the Centre Pompidou, ‘Futurism’ (2009) at Tate Modern and ‘Inventing Abstraction’ (2013) at MoMA, through curatorial advisory, knowledge transfer, theoretical essays in related publications and key loans. In 2014, Feminine Futures is shown at the Consortium Art Centre in Dijon, directed by Xavier Douroux, and in 2015 at the Museum Langmatt in Baden directed by Sarah Zürcher. After this new step, it will be eagerly awaited in other European Museums.

Pioneering, unique or forgotten avant-garde figures

The history of the late ninetieth and the early twentieth centuries female avant-gardes, concerned with the body, dance or performance , was forged independently of dominant artistic movements. The female figure, sublimated and idealised through the literary fantasies of Symbolists, rendered hysterical via the earliest ‘psychopathological’ investigations gave way to an unequalled degree of expressiveness and freedom. The appropriation by women of their own modernity and the invention of multiple hypotheses as regards the ‘Future Woman’, open up new perspectives, suggesting a radical transcendence of the fine arts disciplines via actions where the body was seen in itself as a fully-fledged work of art.

Adrien Sina’s re-examination of the history of this artistic movement focuses on women at the forefront of their art, and on the full extent of their creativity, including many of their hitherto ignored or unknown works. Some of these avant-garde women are: Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), Anna Denzler Duncan (1894-1980), Valentine de Saint-Point (1875-1953), Ruth St. Denis (1878-1968), Gertrude Hoffman (1871-1966), Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), Vera Fokina (1886-1958), Ida Rubinstein (1888-1960), Désirée Lubowska, Milada Mladova (1921-), Roshanara (1894-1926), Jia Ruskaja (1902-1970), Evan Burrows Fontaine (1898-1984), Mary Wigman (1886-1973), Gret Palucca (1902-1993), Grete Wiesenthal (1885-1970), Hedwig Hagemann, Valeska Gert (1892-1978), Vera Skoronel (1906-1932), Clotilde von Derp (1892-1974), Niddy Impekoven (1904-2002), Gisa Geert (1900-1991), Sent M’Ahesa (1883-1970), Katherine Cornell (1893-1974), Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), Tashamira (1904-1995), Tilly Losch (1903-1975), Margaret Morris (1891-1980), Nini Theilade (1915-), Yvonne Georgi (1903-1975), Maja Lex (1906-1986), Martha Graham (1894-1991), Doris Humphrey (1895-1958), Hanya Holm (1893-1992), Ruth Page (1899-1991), Myra Kinch (1904-1981), Gertrude Lippincott (1913-1996)...

Another history of photography and experimental film on dance

Dance, movement, physical expression and photography come together in an exceptional field of convergence. The membrane, a tactile extension of the skin and the surface of the human body, expands notions of speed around the body as sought by the futurists’ utopias. However, Expressionism, which arose alongside the most terrible tensions and tragedies of the 20th century, transformed the membrane into the vector of an increasingly painful dramaturgy. The ‘membrane of dreams’ oscillates between the fragility of the artist’s body, an imaginative extension of its vitality and the disquieting spectre of death and darker obsessions.

A century of evolving chemical processes, from albumen to silver prints via radium or bromide emulsions, gave rise to a scintillating chromatic spectrum ranging from visual stability to the self-destruction of visible matter. Such is the case of an exceptionally photodynamic feminine and futurist photomontage of the 1920s by Mario Castagneri, never before catalogued: the missing link between futurist photographs
of the 1910s by Anton Giulio Bragaglia and those by Elio Luxardo or Tato of the 1930s.

The highest degrees of aesthetic and artistic prowess are attaineded with the collaboration between choreographers and photographers including Loïe Fuller and Isaiah West Taber or Harry C. Ellis; Vera Fokina or Anna Pavlova and Hixon-Connelly without Herman Mishkin; Ruth St. Denis with Otto Sarony, Lou Goodale Bigelow or Nickolas Muray; Isadora Duncan and Arnold Genthe; Anna Ludmila and James Wallace Pondelicek; Roshanara or Désirée Lubowska and Underwood & Underwood; Mary Wigman or Gret Palucca and Ursula Richter, Charlotte Rudolph, Hugo Erfurth, Hans Robertson, Siegfried Enkelmann, Albert Renger-Patzsch or Edmund Kesting; Tilly Losch and Trude Fleischmann, Emil Otto Hoppé, Alexander Stewart or George Hoyningen-Huene; Valeska Gert and Suse Byk or Alexander Binder; Ruth Page, Yvonne Georgi, Harald Kreutzberg and Maurice Seymour; Martha Graham and Soichi Sunami, Barbara Morgan, Chris Alexander, Ben Pinchot or Philippe Halsman.

The Museum space is punctuated by several film projections of this first photographic genealogy from the 1970s onwards. They include ground-breaking performances by Loïe Fuller, Annabelle Whitford, Ruth St. Denis, Rudolf von Laban, Mary Wigman, Gret Palucca, Valeska Gert, Margaret Morris, Tilly Losch, Hedwig Hagemann, Stella Simon & Miklós Bándy, Jia Ruskaja, Mary Binney Montgomery, Martha Graham, Ruth Page, Carolee Schneemann, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Hannah Wilke, Yoko Ono, ORLAN and Zofia Kulik. The contemporary section during the ‘Festival Dance & Performance’ includes: Lygia Clark, Joëlle Bouvier + Régis Obadia, Isabelle Van Grimde, Yingmei Duan, Tanja Schlander + Rona Yefman, Patricija Gilyte...

Catalogue: Feminine Futures – Performance, Dance, War, Politics and Eroticism. Curated and edited by Adrien Sina.
512 pages (2,500 colour plates). Les Presses du réel, 2011

Stiftung Langmatt – Sidney und Jenny Brown
Feminine Futures – The Membrane of The Dream I / II
Curated by Adrien Sina
Part I: 26 April – 30 August, 2015
Part II: 6 September – 29 November, 2015

Feminine Futures –
Performance, Dance, War, Politics and Eroticism
Curated and edited by Adrien Sina
PERFORMA Biennial, New York
Italian Cultural Institute, November 3, 2009 – January 7, 2010
Les presses du réel, november 2011

© Adrien Sina