signs of a nest – May 2017

An installation by Susan Sentler

May 4th and 5th, 2017

LASALLE College of the Arts

Institute of Contemporary Arts
Brother Joseph McNally Gallery

Concept, camera and editing by Susan Sentler
Performers: Chan Sze-Wei, Yarra Ileto and Valerie Lim
Sound: Hajsch, Für Cleo 3, from the album 1992(1992) and At home (2016) by Zeekos Perakos

The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of Space (1958) that the form of the nest is commanded by the inside. An embodied imprint, the nest becoming one with the material of the place, one with the image.

Multimedia artist and choreographer Susan Sentler created signs of a nest, an installation for the Brother Joseph McNally Gallery at LASALLE School of the Arts in Singapore. Lecturer in dance at LASALLE, Sentler designed Signs of a nest to blur the boundaries between outdoor public space and indoors intimacy. Through the use of film, photography, objects, sound and live performance, Sentler tested the potential of the performance as a durational and evolving installation that can be viewed inside and outside the gallery.  Her use of photographic stills and moving images being both object and performer, explore embodiment through the ritual interplay of the whole – an interplay that triggered perceptions of things nested and nesting.

Having travelled widely and lived in many cities over the past 30 years, Sentler has acquired what she describes as ‘a honed somatic sense of noticing’. Through this sense, she focuses on everyday details, accumulating them through photographic and moving images. These she places into poetic assemblages that serve as buoys, helping the observer to navigate and anchor from place to place. This work reflects particularly on signs that are becoming lost in their material sense, only to be held in virtual images. These images resonate in the landscape of our bodily memory and recall material traces. After arriving in Singapore, Sentler has been capturing images that connect her to its landscape. Some of her first images were of dwellings in housing flats that were likely to disappear.

In this exhibition, the dancers bring a heightened tactile sense of nesting as she curled and wrapped her body around the architectural fabric of the gallery. These nesting improvisations were triggered by iPad displays of images scattered around the gallery floor. As the public wandered in and around the performance, they too, began to take on nested gestures, intensifying the intimacy of observation.  One of the reviews calls Signs of a nest is ‘a poetically choreographed experience,’1 one that gives the audience a privileged vantage point from which to view – and feel – intimacies in the elusive obvious of everyday life.

Signs of a nest was created in 2016 for Abeerance 8, a performance platform in London, and The Substation, Singapore.

1. Signs of a nest an installation by Susan Sentler – Review, May 9th, 2017