Through Composition as Explanation, 2011 Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet

Through Composition as Explanation

Performance based on an essay by Gertrude Stein

12.11 2011 – 13.11 2011


The performance project Through Composition as Explanation is an ongoing process, based on Composition as Explanation, an essay by Gertrude Stein published in 1926 by Hogarth Press, Virginia Woolf’s publishing company. The artist Liv Strand was recommended to read the essay a few years ago. She developed a fascination for the text and decided, together with Marcus Doverud and Amelie Rydqvist, to deal with the essay as the work of art it is, as something to understand and apply, translate and implement.

Stein’s essay practices its theory in the way it is written. The discussion in the text involves convoluted time, where historical time is separated from that which is negotiated in the present. The text is an explanation model where the repetition of words gradually forms standpoints; meanwhile, the text can be read as a libretto, a flow where the artistic use of repetition rolls out the words and emphasises the expressiveness of the text. It deals with the difference between contemporary and classical art. Gertrude Stein refers to the contemporary as here and now, whereas classical art has been ascribed an exalted position in art history.

In the project, which has been in progress for more than a year, the text has been read aloud and analysed, alongside other articles and books. Reading list (pdf) The text by Gertrude Stein has an approach and a way of reasoning that is transferred in the performance to corresponding expressions in space, objects and moving bodies. As part of the work process the text is translated and updated. A painting by Picasso from the Moderna Museet collection, Woman with Blue Collar, features on stage, along with plaster lilies and a large sheet of brown paper. The performance lasts for as long as it takes to read the text by Gertrude Stein aloud, approximately 30 minutes.

The project is performed by the artist Liv Strand, in collaboration with Marcus Doverud, choreographer, Amelie Rydqvist, artist and architect, and Ana-Maria Hadji-Culea, curator and writer. Through Composition as Explanation is supported by Kulturbryggan, with KU funding from the Royal Institute of Art, and project funding from the City of Stockholm. It is organised jointly with Moderna Museet and Weld.

Contact: Catrin Lundqvist, curator