Emma Waltraud Howes – Aug 2021

Bang Bang Baroque (2021), 3D models and VR from maquettes, Photo: Daniel Neubacher (Bremen)
‘It is indecent to make a gesture with your left hand alone, do not let your hand hang down as if lame or dead.“ 

—Thomas Betterton, 1700

Bang Bang Baroque (WIP)

Bang Bang Baroque consists of a series of sixteen graphite drawings that explore a conflation between The Great Sparrow Campaign, which was a part of Mao Zedongs’ intention to exterminate sparrows during The Great Leap Forward (1958–1962); French caricatures of baroque wigs from the 18th century; ‘soft head-banging’ and classical gestures of rhetoric (Chironomia). The drawings are translated into large inflatable sculptures made from parachute silk and worn by performers who, moving amidst the guests, oscillate between psychological and material concepts of “subject” and “object”. The physical actions of the performers range from “soft head-banging” to a repertoire of traditional gestures from baroque opera and contemporary mannerisms of etiquette.

The graphic scores for the performance, the performers and floor of the space, are informed by the Beauchamp-Feuillet (1700) system of dance notation, combined with the aesthetic and evolution of artichoke hearts. The accompanying soundtrack, comprised of a death growling chorus, metronome aria’s, sparrow gabber, and harpsichord diddies, will function as a musical translation of the original drawings.


This work is currently being developed through the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

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