Retratos Número 2

Billy Cowie, Gabriela Alcofra

    Research output: Non-textual outputPerformance


    Retratos Número 2 [Portraits Number Two] is a three-minute black and white dance film investigating the shared territory between dance and fine art portraiture, made by Billy Cowie in collaboration with the Brazilian artist Gabriela Alcofra. The choreography slows the dance down to incremental head movement and a visual distortion created by lighting the dancer’s face by a projected photograph. The process draws on distorted facial portraits, notably those of Francis Bacon, and early experimental film, including Maya Deren’s experimental use of ritual and the extended concept of dance.

    Internationally recognised as an experimental choreographer for screendance and live performance, Cowie’s research built upon his earlier examination of the limits of screendance (in collaboration with Liz Aggiss) and asked questions about the boundaries between the traditions of portraiture and a filmic portrayal of the human face. The extremely precise movements required entailed a detailed method of choreography with live verbal instructions. Filming in a single take with no editing to replicate early screen dance films also necessitated meticulous preparation. By re-imagining dance choreography, and determining its equivalence to a specific style of twentieth-century portraiture, Cowie and Alcofra documented ways in which this experimentally extreme work might offer alternative perspectives on the fusion of art forms, and demonstrated how choreography of subtle movements can enhance and interrogate the medium of dance.

    The work premiered at the Darkroom Festival, Deptford Cinema (2019) and was shown at Emerge Microcinema, Cleveland (2019), and the Fiver Festival, Madrid (2019), and selected for the Master of Art Film Festival, Bulgaria (2020) and the Golden Ger Film Festival, Mongolia (2020).
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationDarkroom Festival, Deptford Cinema
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2019


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