Figures in a Landscape is a meditation on live painting and moving sculpture, a dialogue between the visual arts and dance, between European and Chinese culture. The project evolved out of the costume designs of the British artist Jonathan Baldock, which are inspired in part by Medieval monk’s cowls, Chinese opera costumes and European Modernism. “My practice is always related to the human form”, says Baldock. “So it’s a natural development for me to integrate live bodies into my work.”
As the founders of Tanzcompagnie Rubato, Jutta Hell and Dieter Baumann have been permanent fixtures on the independent German dance scene since 1985, and have been creating co-productions both in China and with Chinese artists now for over 20 years. For Hell and Baumann, sculptural elements always play a central role, since moving sculpture allows a diversity of aesthetic forms to develop. Through their choreography, they lend an additional dimension to the materiality of Baldock’s costumes. On the bodies of the eight dancers, the garments are brought to life through movement, are re-arranged and create unexpected images and meanings through the dance.
The title Figures in a Landscape is a reference to the long-standing pictorial tradition of the use of staffage figures in landscape painting, and at the same time, draws the museum as venue into the piece. Through the movement of the bodies and costumes, a soundscape is created which makes musical accompaniment superfluous. A dynamic sculpture emerges that undergoes a continual metamorphosis–a swirling process of becoming and passing away.