Originating in seventeenth century Europe, elegant dance cards dangled from a woman’s wrist at the formal dances of the upper classes. Men could sign up for the pleasure of dancing with them. One would have to act fast before the most popular girls’ cards were full. At some point, professions were added and income became more important than your ability to waltz. Status upon status. Strict rules of etiquette and decorum.
Croatian born artist Anita Kontrec created the installation Calligraphic Landscapes in response to the 11th century diary of the lady in waiting, Sei Shonagon, “Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon”. This book is considered to be one of world literature’s great masterpieces. The site-specific installation consisted of 10 -20 pieces of opaque fabric (10x 1.5 meter) which were hung from the ceiling to form a dream-like landscape that the dancers walked through and experienced. The applied acrylic paint patterns on the fabric evoke calligraphic tradition and integrate many poetic fragments from the book in English as well as in Croatian. While documenting the installation it was clear that to truly portray the dream-like world Anita wanted to create, we needed movement. We installed Emilie and Vanessa and let them explore the out-of-body nature of the hangings. The film became my interpretation of that experience.