Rebecca Ackroyd and Maya Deren at Exo Exo

Artists: Rebecca Ackroyd, Maya Deren

Exhibition title: Conducting Bodies

Curated by: Giulia Civardi

Venue: Exo Exo, Paris, France

Date: July 5 – 23, 2019

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Exo Exo

A house, a garden,
are not places:
they spin, they come and go.
Their apparitions open
another space
in space,
another time in time.
(…)
A garden is not a place.
Down a path of reddish sand,
we enter a drop of water,
drink green clarities from its center,
we climb
the spiral of hours
to the tip of the day,
descent
to the last burning of its ember.
Mumbling river,
the garden flows through the night.

A tale of two gardens, Octavio Paz

Conducting Bodies establishes a dialogue between the work of Rebecca Ackroyd and Maya Deren to explore the shifting temporal interrelations of bodies and landscapes and reflect on body ecologies and inter-subjectivity beyond the human.

For her first exhibition in Paris, London-based artist Rebecca Ackroyd (b. 1987, UK) presents a new large-scale installation and a series of drawings. Ackroyd repurposes floral bedsheets and a walk-in polytunnel, a structure typically used for controlled gardening, creating an immersive environment suspended between daydreaming and reality. Visual echoes of domestic life, 60s counterculture, and imagined nature infuse the present with a feeling from another time, opening for reflections on social identity and processes of growth.

Maya Deren’s experimental film At Land (1944) features Deren herself (b. 1917, UA – d. 1961, USA) as a woman washed up on a beach. Deren cuts from the seashore to a dinner party, through foliage and interiors, and back on the beach. The camera follows Deren’s movements, almost merging with her body, while her image is caught in a web of fragmented events, all connected by the search for a chess pawn. Taking on an environmental psychology approach, the film externalises the hidden dynamics of individual formation, focusing on social rituals and the human body’s place in nature.

The artists share an interest in everyday symbolism and imagination and evoke through non-linear narratives the interlacing between different life-forms and environments. Conducting Bodies proposes an imaginative ‘wood wide web’ perspective, to rethink the physicality of socio-ecological networks; a journey through time, oniric sensitivity and fragmented selves that may conduce to hidden paths or lost ones to rediscover.

Rebecca Ackroyd (b. 1987, UK) lives and works in London. She graduated from the Royal Academy School in 2015 after completing her BA in Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art in 2010. Recent solo exhibitions include The Mulch, Peres Projects, Berlin, DE; Drain, Galleri Opdahl, Stavanger, NO; The Root, Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK; House Fire, Outpost Gallery, Norwich, UK; Taken Care, Hunter / Whitfield, London, UK. Ackroyd’s forthcoming exhibitions include the 15th Lyon Biennale and a solo at Fondazione Pomodoro in Milan, both 2019.

Maya Deren, born Eleonora Derenkowska (b. 1917, Ukraine, UA – d. 1961, New York City, USA) was an experimental filmmaker, who combined her interest in dance, Haitian Vodou and subjective psychology in a series of low-budget, black-and-white short films. She wrote, produced, directed, edited, and photographed her films with help from only one other person, Hella Heyman, her camerawoman. Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet, lecturer, writer, and photographer.

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