top of page

Still Life with Dancer

A psychosexual exploration of three-dimensionality across flat surfaces and into extension.  Viewer/s involuntarily ‘dance’ in a still life as they view digital movies on small digital ‘picture frames’.


It is believed by many[1] that just over 100 years ago, in 1907, cubism was born in the painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso.[2] 


Though the conventional belief is that this painting was the first salvo in an all-out assault on traditional modes of representation the real significance of this painting was recognized by the writers of the book: Art Since 1900.  In their book, the authors identified this painting as an attack on the white, heterosexual, male collector essentially calling him on centuries of stolen pleasure gleaned by voyeuristically gazing at the naked bodies of women who were trapped within flat surfaces and unable to gaze back.  This was the first painting to ‘gaze back’ depriving the collector of his privileged position as the gazer[3], the one who does the gazing, and instead, nailing his feet to the floor and turning the spotlight on him. 


Flash forward one hundred years,   Joe Potts and Doug Henry are working on a show to commemorate this, the first centennial of the birth of cubism.  They take as material inspiration the 1966[4] film: Breakaway by Bruce Conner featuring the singer/songwriter and (in the movie) risqué dancer, Antonia Basilotta (a.k.a. Toni Basil of  ‘…oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind hey Mickey…’ fame) and hire several dancers to be subjects for a significant portion of their project.  The dancers, for budgetary reasons as much as any other, must select and bring their own wardrobe and prepare their own ‘routines’.  By happenstance, of three dancers scheduled, two women and one man, only the women are able to make it to the shoot.  Also by happenstance, the camera crew (five people with cameras) is composed of all men. 


Now, the subjects of the Picasso painting were all women and the artist, Picasso, was obviously a man yet the effect of this painting has been diagnosed by the authors of Art Since 1900 as having an essentially feminist thrust in addition to any formal or stylistic innovations it may have contained.  Also, if as Zizek says, we live in an age when “…In sex, the effectively hegemonic attitude is not patriarchal repression but free promiscuity…”[5]  and, pornography is mainstream as measured by percentage of global internet bandwidth usage, then what’s the problem?  Why does this situation feel so strange?


[1] We adopt the Fox News Channel convention of using ‘some’ and ‘many’ to avoid the limitations imposed by scholarship to cite actual names and specific quotes.

[2]  We conceived of this project several years ago in order to time with the celebration of the centennial of the birth of cubism but were unable to secure a venue for its presentation- no one seemed interested?!?

[3] Exploiting the technique developed by G.W. Bush to convert verbs into nouns expanding language and keeping it vital

[4] As an aside, for years I dated all my artwork “1966” regardless of what year I had done it because I believed 1966 was the best year for art.

[5] A Plea for Leninist Intolerance,  Slavoj Zizek, Critical Inquiry, Winter 2002

picasso man looking at woman looking at man.png

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

Man looking at woman by Pablo Picasso

Still life with Dancer installation view #1


Still life with Dancer installation view #2

bottom of page