Elizabeth Bick

After a decade dedicated to training in dance, I found a choreographic voice through photography.

As a dancer, one is a vessel to the vision of the choreographer, her expression becomes the extension of that directorial practice. As a photographer capturing fleeting banal movements in the street, I see myself as both a choreographer, directing my camera to the light, spaces, the moments of perfectly harmonious gesture between pedestrians with a critical precision, but also that of a dancer, using my body as a mapping device, and to create constrained scores for the work.

I use photography to document performances that occur ritually–some consciously staged; most unconsciously so. To analyze these performances, I often hire professional dancers to mimic the movements of strangers in public spaces. In other work I locate a “stage” in a public, transient, space and capture fleeting movements as performances.

I have submitted works that are the results of equally blending the tradition of choreography and photography.  The inherent capability the camera has to articulate the nuances of contemporary movements by freezing them is a foundational element in my work.

I have submitted three representative methods of constructing my work.

In the work Street Ballet, I insert quotidian movements as dance into public spaces.  I locate an active public pedestrian space with no evident signage or specific location.  I then schedule a time to make the work when there is theatrical daylight.  I hire dancers and, with them, develop an instructional choreography score based on everyday gestures. The dancers consciously engage with pedestrians who are unknowing participants. Pedestrians and dancers are captured collectively and as one. The reversal of roles of these accidental and trained dancers is tantamount.  The images depict a fleeting movement frozen, both spontaneous and highly orchestrated.

In Movement Studies, I photograph spaces in a stop-motion sequence that is then sequentially ordered into a grid of sixteen pictures.  I grid sixteen images as a way to decontextualize the backdrop of a public space and reframe it as a dance, and a typological study. The participants in these works are unaware of the cameras presence or their participation.  These works are made across the globe in urban settings, primarily in New York City.

Similar to Street Ballet, Movement Studies incorporates developed dance scores. Dissimilarly, the scores for this work are created as a structure of observation, instead of an intervention.  I study and select patterns of movement, such as walking through a revolving door, kicking before ones foot touches a final stair, and an exact space of passing underneath a shadow.  The work reveals these patterns of movement, but also the nuances of gesture, dress, and facial expression that reveal more about each subject.  The work is heavily inspired by Eaweard Muybridge’s Human Locomotion, as well as post modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch.

The final submission, entitled Every God, depicts five consecutive years of photographing tourists during the Summer Solstice in a highly populated and transient site in Rome Italy: the Pantheon (PAN: Every or All; THEO: God).

The Pantheon is a space of worship and tourism, that now occupies visitors from every culture, faith, age and race, and self-presentation. As entrance is free into the space, there is a rapid, congested, and constant movement of varying demographics of individuals.  I visit the site on the Summer Solstice, in order to fully capture the overhead light and shadow of this theater of tourists that falls through the open ceiling.

Being inside this space is visually myopic, and similar to being inside a camera.  The limited exposure capabilities of a camera and piercing light result in the background being fully blacked out in order to properly expose tourists.  Combined with the congested nature of the enclosed architecture, individuals depicted appear to be in a state of conscious pantomime. All is captured in camera.

Differing from my other projects, the focus of the work depicts subjects playfully posing for a photograph, although unaware of the presence of mine. I see this work as another iterative study of the posture, gaze, and body movement of individuals who are willingly and knowingly documenting themselves photographically, intuitively moving in response to being in a natural stage-like spotlight.  In our time, the embodiment of self-celebritization is commonplace.  The repetitive god-like physical responses to the natural spot light appear to be inspired by this generational characteristic.

In Every God in particular, I seek to represent a type of inclusive admiration to all bodies, in any self-presentation, differing from the criticality that exists in many other facets of society. All become a spectacle through the camera, in a certain vantage point, with a type of light, with a certain posture.

I hope, collectively, my work inspires a higher sensitivity to the nuanced intuitive gestures of our time, as a way to gain more empathy and acceptance of the fabric of our contemporary society.  Photography is its own language that, to me, is non-translatable.  I too feel that human movement is a hermetic language.  I aspire to become fluent in these languages through the techniques developed, and to continue to grow within this parallel practice.

EDUCATION

YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ART MFA Photography Honors 2013 PARSONS THE NEW SCHOOL OF DESIGN, Research 2010 – 2011 LOYOLA UNIVERSITY NEW ORLEANS BFA Photography Cum Laude 2003

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

PERFORMANCES Curated by Elizabeth Welch VISUAL ARTS CENTER UT Austin 2017
THE REAL SIN WOULD BE NEVER EXPERIENCING IT Curated by C. Finley SPRING BREAK/Art show 2017

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

STANDARD VISION Digital Billboard exhibition, Los Angeles 2017
ART OF NOW Curated by Betty Leven Hearst Corporation Gallery NYC 2017
ART OF FASHION Curated by Kathy Battista Fountainhouse Gallery NYC 2017
WHITNEY HOUSTON BIENNIAL Curated by C. Finley Chashama Gallery NYC 2017
RUDIN PRIZE Curated by Tim Wride Norton Museum Florida 2017
FACE IT Curated by Lynn Whitney Bowling Green State University, Ohio 2016
PAPER JOURNAL Curated by Patricia Karallis Webber Space London UK 2016
SHE/FOLK Curated by Montana Simone Idio Gallery NYC 2015
THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER Curated by Katy Grannan Fraenkel Gallery San Francisco 2015 WHITNEY HOUSTON BIENNIAL Curated by C. Finley Brooklyn NY 2014
SHANNON In partnership with Melissa Harris Aperture Foundation Gallery NYC 2013 CONVEYOR Curated by Christina Labey 25CPW NYC 2010
CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER Hosted by Chateau La Napoule New Orleans LA 2007
LA NAPOULE GALLERY Cannes France 2007
COTTON CANDY ON A RAINY DAY Curated by Shinique Smith Proposition Gallery NYC 2006

AWARDS + GRANTS

RUDIN PRIZE Nominated by Shirin Neshat Norton Museum of Art 2017
WARD CHENEY MEMORIAL AWARD Yale Honors 2013
POLLOCK-KRASNER STIPEND Artist Grant to support Santa Fe Arts Institute residency 2007 JOAN MITCHELL FOUNDATION Grant 2007
CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM HOUSTON Artist Grant 2008

RESIDENCIES + FELLOWSHIPS

BLACKSTAD ARTIST RESIDENCY, Residency Artist Sweden 2018
ART & LAW PROGRAM Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento Fellow NewYork City 2016 LATITUTE CHICAGO Resident Artist Chicago Illinois 2016
AMERICAN ACADEMY IN ROME Summer Resident Artist Rome Italy 2014 SANTA FE ART INSTITUTE Resident Artist Santa Fe New Mexico 2007
LOWER MANHATTAN CULTURAL COUNCIL Resident Artist NewYork City 2007

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

HARPER’S July Issue 2018
NY TIMES MAGAZINE Harbor Romance June 2018 HARPER’S January Issue 2018
DEAR DAVE, Magazine Issue 26 2018
VICE online interview 2017
NEW YORK TIMES Metro Section feature 2017
W MAGAZINE Review of Whitney Houston Biennial 2017 TIME OUT NEW YORK SPRING BREAK Ar t/Show 2017 ART FORUM Rudin Prize announcement 2017
NEW YORKER Photo Booth 2017
PAPER-JOURNAL Coda 2017 Performances 2014 GLASSTIRE Featured Exhibition 2017
AINT-BAD Metropolis New York 2016
LENSCRATCH Feature by Aline Smithson 2016
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Review 2015 PHOTOGRAPH MAGAZINE Review 2015
VICE MAGAZINE Fiction Issue 2015
HUMBLE ARTS Tough Turf 2014
HUFFINGTON POST Feature 2013

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

SOTHEBY’S INSTITUTE, February 2018
FOUNTAINHOUSE GALLERY Panel Discussion 2017 SCHOOLOFTHEARTINSTITUTEOFCHICAGO ArtistTalkPhotographyDepartment2015,2017 MARBLEHILLSUPPERCLUB PERFORMANCEArtistTalk2017
SOUTH EASTERN COLLEGE ART CONFERENCE PAPER Performances, Artist Talk 2016 BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY Photography Department ArtistTalk 2016 LATITUDECHICAGO Workshop+ArtistTalk 2016
SHE/FOLK PANEL Idio Gallery 2016
HAASLIBRARY YaleUniversity PRESENTATIONTodPapageorgeAtYale 2014

ACADEMIC POSITIONS

FASHIONINSTITUTEOFTECHNOLOGYVisitingAssistantProfessor Fall2017-Current
PRATT INSTITUTE BFA Photography Visiting Assistant Professor Fall 2016 – Spring 2018 SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS BFA Photography + Video Adjunct Faculty Spring 2014 – Current BARD COLLEGE AT SIMON’S ROCK Art History department Adjunct Faculty Spring 2014 YALESUMMERARTSPROGRAM TeachingFellow2012