A collaborative artwork by choreographer Angela Woodhouse and Visual Artist Nathaniel Rackowe and originally performed by dancers Stine Nilsen and Martina Conti.
Following the very successful premiere of (Un)touched part 1 at One Canada Square, Canary Wharf as part of Nathaniel Rackowe’s solo exhibition ‘Luminous City’ this year the collaborators are now embarking on the making of the second accompanying work.
‘I could watch this again and again’Donald Hutera, Dance critic, The Times.
(Un)touched is a unique and ambitious interdisciplinary installation that explores simultaneous experiences (and contradictions) of intimacy and distance.
(Un)touched presents a glass platform onto which the viewers are invited to walk or place themselves. Submerged beneath are two performers, whose presence is revealed depending on the shifting light contained as part of the structure. The work takes inspiration from South Korean artist Do-Ho Suh’s piece ‘Floor’ (1997) where the visitor is invited to walk on a glass surface under which there are many small ﬁgures. This act highlights a dialectic between abused power and the power of human collective action. We re-imagine this dialogue as a live event where the vulnerability of the skin’s surface elevates the body, and where a sense of precariousness is derived from the situation in which all those present ﬁnd themselves. The reality of separation suggests a touch that has no consequences, and yet the act of touch or walking over the surface of a body triggers affecting notions of power, control, and moral (un)certainty.
Layers of meaning are interwoven with the ethics implicit in the viewers’ positioning and construction of images that they themselves collaborate in making. These harbour the sense of bodies as lost or archived under the surface of the glass made more complex as the light sequence plays on the materiality of the glass in respect of reflection and transparency, switching attention from their bodies revealed to our bodies reflected back.
‘Thank-you for creating this powerful experience… The work gave me many associations with important and difficult things happening in the world at the moment. It feels very current and thought provoking …I am a lucky person to have been able to come and see this.’
Audience responses, CODA, Oslo 2019 (Un)touched was made possible through research funding from Cultural Capital Exchange UK 2014. The production is funded by Arts Council England, Canary Wharf PLC, and Middlesex University with further support from Fold Gallery, London. The work has been performed at Fold Gallery, London (2017), National Museum, Belgrade as part of International Festival of Theatre 2018, and at CODA International Dance Festival 2019.
“I enjoyed how human the piece was, how intimate and honest. I was drawn into the ‘morphing’- the blurring between two bodies as one, ..they almost slotted into one another – aspects of duality, sameness and separateness.”Audience response premiere Canary Wharf February 2016
Nicolas Minns – Writing about dance: Nathaniel Rackowe & Angela Woodhouse, (Un)touched
Josephine Leaske – Dance Tabs: (Un)touched review – Josephine Leask, Fold Gallery 1st July 2017
CODA International Festival, Oslo 2019:
Thank- you for this moving performance….creating a space of intimacy in this open public space. I was moved by watching other people’s encounter with the dancers, beautiful moments of stillness and contemplation.
Wow! I feel so huge and full of power, yet very small and careful when walking over the glass.
Enjoyed this silent beauty. Calm, rest, translucent, mesmerising, extremely powerful.
It’s uncomfortable but also a privilege to get so close.
Like nothing else! Intimate yet distant
International Festival of Theatre, Belgrade 2018:
Thank you for this moving performance, very intense and intimate. A disconcerting experience of power that leaves room for possibilities.
Powerful, moving, claustrophobic.
Beautiful…it makes me think what having power feels like.
Love these moments of touch…and in a historical museum with the artefacts all around. Interesting and thought provoking.
Fold Gallery, 8th June 2017
Tweet from Donald Hutera:
The final performances of (Un)touched at FOLD Gallery are THIS Saturday the 15th ( 2pm,4pm and 6pm , free + refreshment).
Do go and share with choreographer Angela Woodhouse, artist Nathaniel Rackowe and dancer collaborators Stone Nilsen and Martina Conti.
I went and I do wish I could watch this again and again.
Strong, steady gaze that kept me in
I felt both vulnerable and powerful on top of the glass floor
It was beautiful, I was so intrigued by what you were doing under the floor.
I would like to come back to see it again!
Captivated by the interactions of both the public’s bodies and the performers on the glass structure – condensation from breath and footprints evaporating over four to five seconds melding into the shifting rhythms of the choreography.
A plethora of fragmented images from each vantage point. There were so many composite framings where viewers and dancers spliced together in continually surprising ways’.
It was great to see your new work and collaboration and I really enjoyed the quiet attentive listening through touch that we were invited to contemplate and perceive. Stine and the other dancer (sorry I forget her name) held my gaze when I was on the glass platform and this felt poignant, delicate and a vibration at the edge of a threshold.
There is much to reflect on in this work in relation to scale, intimacy, the city and corporeality. Its manoeuvring of presence animating the mesh, glass and light sculptures as objects of permeability, a place for porosity and surfacing of affect. With so much going on in the city outside, this precious moment of acute awareness to how we are here seemed necessary and vibrant.’
I loved how the audience all suddenly turned very quiet and concentrated when the performance began – the sheer power of live performance through the human body’.
.. there was a sense of maze and I felt very taken by the ability I felt given to move and choose where to focus my eyes and attention. I was very aware, still and perhaps even more, of the viewers’ around. I also enjoyed integrating them as part of the frame, and the very dense, direct yet soft and “voluminous” quality of the performers bodies. (Floor piece) I felt that I was over stepping a line by walking on top of these bodies. It comes to me now that there is almost something of extreme beauty, luxury or sacredness about the item they form: the performers become this jewellery, precious vulnerable yet very powerful of wisdom/ serenity/ generosity or seemingly absence of fear.
So lovely to witness your beautiful and moving work – I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The first part of the performance I felt very much like audience- it was a gorgeous work but for me the underfloor piece was the one. It was so intimate- I could have been viewing it on my own- in fact I would have liked to- I found it quite emotional and not because of any kind of reference to mortality- maybe just the intimacy of the piece.. I am not sure I can explain any more fully than that.
Dance Fields, Roehampton University, 29th April 2017
So lovely to witness your beautiful and moving work – I thoroughly enjoyed it
As I walked over the structure, one of the dancers made eye contact with me – this was a particularly striking moment – quite beautiful and absorbing. I loved the creation of a world, a space; very restful and immersive.
It was delightful to begin the engagement – it seemed a beautiful piece about the risks and possibilities of boundaries, and I loved the edginess of this…there was a beautiful quality to your stillness towards the end that was magical. The eye contact was very powerful. Thank-you.
Like looking into a tomb/womb of twins. Beautiful imagery, un-hurried, composed, human.
So violent to walk over bodies…But do we…Remembered pressing my hand on my skin, the growing baby pressing her foot against my body as she grew safely inside..
Something very interesting about the light and ownership of the space – illumination of private/public spheres and our relationship to them. An invitation to be with, or to listen. A strength in the disconnected connection.
An intimate, close experience – wanting to touch and play with the dancers. I lay down to get closer and watch their movements. Breath, contact, ease of movement in a confined space. Thank-you for the wonderful experience.
Luminous City, Canary Wharf Feb 2016
…the nature of two women… transposable interchangeable selves: breath, metal, skin, the gentle pressure of accumulated endurance, of glass and bright light.
the performances tonight were brilliant. The lighting / reflective elements worked magnificently, especially the interplay with the surroundings. I enjoyed watching everyone’s reactions. You made so many people stop quite literally in their tracks.
I enjoyed how human the piece was, how intimate and honest. I was drawn into the ‘morphing’- the blurring between two bodies as one, ..they almost slotted into one another – aspects of duality, sameness and separateness.
Sharing, Inside Out Festival, London October 2014
The dialogue of sculptural form and human form created a context where the audience – me! – could enjoying exploring the poeticism of forms disappearing and commingling. I found the mood created through the forms interacting with each other to be one of deep contemplation. My attention oscillated between the nature of two women on whom it is hard not to project some resonance of relationship: of sisters, parents, transposable interchangeable selves, and of the material properties of things: breath, metal, skin, of the gentle pressure of accumulated endurance, of glass and bright light.
The concept of “touch without touch” was explicit and clear and I enjoyed it very much. I recognised two artful layers that evoked the identity and symmetry of dancers. I was especially intrigued when the dancers’ bodies were generating and dissolving.