RITE: ON THIS PLIANT BODY WE SLIP OUR WOW!

De La Warr Pavilion (2018)

RITE reinterprets a pivotal moment in modernism’s history: Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Composed for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes and choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky, this notorious production provoked riots when it opened in Paris 1913. Drawing on the The Rite Of Spring’s rich legacy, Florence Peake’s RITE reclaims triumphant physicality as political statement – presenting the primal body as a powerful force in the struggle for change. At RITE’s core is a drive to expand the relationship between movement and material, a concern that has informed the artist’s practice for over a decade.

For her solo show at the De La Warr Pavilion curated by Rosie Cooper, Peake created an expansive body of work including performances, sculpture, wall-frieze, film and talks, collectively titled RITE : on this pliant body we slip our wow!.

Short film about the work & Interview with Florence Peake here

Review by Louisa Buck in the Art Newspaper here

More information :

Peake worked closely with a cast of dancers; Iris Chan, Katye Coe, Antonio De La Fe, Samuel Kennedy and Susanna Recchia, creating a large-scale performance in six tonnes of clay.

The mound of clay that remained in the gallery after the performance became the centrepiece of an exhibition, featuring a painted frieze encircling the walls and a soundtrack by Beatrice Dillon made from audio recordings of Peake handling the clay.

For the painted frieze, Peake collaborated with the Pavilion’s staff – people who interact with a modernist architectural icon almost every day – drawing outlines of their bodies as they moved to the Rite of Spring music in a series of private sessions. Inspired by iconic methods of depicting historic scenes in classical and medieval friezes and tapestries, the wall-paintings abstract the rite of spring through movement, drawing, paint and plaster.

RITE is almost camp in its accumulation of references. Classical sculpture, a dance history spanning from Isadora Duncan to Xavier Le Roy, and the brutally sensorial performances of Carolee Schneemann and Hermann Nitsch all resonate with Peake’s ambitious project. Informed also by feminist theory, Peake draws on this rich cultural legacy to reclaim triumphant physicality as political statement. She presents the body as primal, visceral, erotic – impervious, in the artist’s own words, to “neo-fascist normalization”: in this way, her approach is a form of protest. She says, “RITE rejects post-modern cynicism. It is a bodily affirmation that in the current political climate, blasé detachment is no longer an option.

Research on RITE was generously supported by the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project 2016-17 with partners Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Cambridge Junction, Dance4, Greenwich Dance, LIFT, London College of Fashion, Sadler’s Wells, Site Gallery, Tintype Gallery and by public funding through Arts Council England. It was developed through residencies at Somerset House Studios, Site Gallery and Cass Sculpture Foundation in partnership with West Dean College and through a solo show at Studio Leigh. RITE: On this pliant body we slip our WOW! was supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

Performers : Iris Chan, Katye Coe, Antonio de la Fe Guedes, Samuel Kennedy, Susanna Recchia

Rehearsal director : Susanna Recchia

Production management : Rory Snookes

Production advice : Steve Wald

Dramaturg : Martin Hargreaves

Costume design : Clover Peake

Sound : Beatrice Dillon

Photography : Anne Tetzlaff and James Cosens

Producer : Nikki Tomlinson