Valerie Schmidt: tango āhua
In Maori the title roughly translates as ‘taking shape’.
The series draws on a process of research and experiments to investigate the actual moment in which human bodies and objects manifest or cease to exist. The works represent an exploration of where the balance between objects that possess a presence and those that are about to change forever is located. The instantaneous materialisation of fleeting shapes, either found or playfully created, depict a state of uncertainty, a process of becoming and breaking apart and consequently shape-shift into momentarily frozen sculptures.
The collection juxtaposes such aspects as decline and ascent, tension and release, the phantasmal and abstract, sensuousness and decay, nervousness and tranquillity and distortion culminating in disfigurement. Many of the photographs are the result of performative experiments with people and different materials.
Previous works by Valerie Schmidt have examined the subject of fainting with a particular emphasis on women in the late 19th century. The intention there was to explore the body language of staged ‘decorative’ poses. The works here continue that investigation by scrutinising the subliminal expression of human and non-human bodies.