Chaired Anxieties: Slewed

1975, 13:06 min, b&w, sound

"In Slewed, the second exercise in the Chaired Anxieties series, Dara Birnbaum again performs alone in front of a stationary camera, The artist's interactions with the wooden folding chair take on a heightened physical and psychological intensity. Birnbaum is first seen from the waist down, wearing a flowered skirt, her legs and feet bare. She sits astride the wooden chair, legs spread, and uses her feet and legs to push the chair around in a circle on the floor. Still sitting, she enacts a series of tense movements and anxious gestures, clutching at her calves and the chair with splayed hands.

Over the course of the piece, the artist's actions become increasingly agitated. Her breathing becomes labored as she falls from the chair to her knees, her long hair hanging. She wrestles violently with the chair on the floor, her limbs flailing, her thighs and crotch exposed. Relinquishing the chair, she squats and hops, animal-like, on all fours. Finally she sits in the chair again and performs a choreographed set of more benign but still agitated movements: crossing, uncrossing, and swinging her legs. In her final gestures, she skips around the chair, almost as if performing a dance." (LZ)

Text reprinted with permission from Dara Birnbaum: The Dark Matter of Media Light. Karen J.Kelly, Barbara Schröder, and Giel Vandecaveye. Ghent/Porto/Munich: Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst/Museu Serralves/Del Monico Books-Prestel, 2011. p. 164.

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1975, 41:12 min, b&w, sound