Alexandra Bachzetsis takes the emerging systems of communication that have come to define contemporary culture—pop music, the mass media, and the internet—as the true sites within which contemporary dance is produced. She construes dance as an intersectional language, the result of the criss-crossing of various systems of representation: painting, drawing, architecture, photography, literature, cinema, television, video clips, advertising, fashion, pornography, and YouTube tutorials. Throughout, she documents all forms of contemporary embodiment, from workout routines to rebetiko, to create a living archive of social scores.
Bachzetsis launched her choreographic practice in 2001 with Perfect. Since then she has collaborated with numerous artists on more than twenty-five pieces, including Gold (2004), Show Dance (2004), Undressed (2005), Dream Season (2008), Étude (2012), From A to B via C (2014), and, more recently, the solo PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me (2016), which splices postures from yoga, porn, football, and other sources to form a kind of report on the formation of gender and desire under a neoliberal regime via ritualistically repeated gestures.
For Bachzetsis, Fred Astaire, Bob Dylan, Michelangelo Antonioni, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Michael Jackson are as important as Trisha Brown—or Lina Bo Bardi. Her dance engages with the transversal history of image production, from preperspective and medieval flatness to the languages of contemporary art, but also graphic design or digital media, and in so doing she radically displaces traditional accounts of space, movement, body, and subjectivity. Her work demonstrates that the images of mass culture are based on abstract models of vision and movement codified in terms of gender, race, class, age, or disability that constrain bodily action and normalize subjectivity.
Born in Switzerland to a Swiss mother and a Greek father, in 1974, Bachzetsis claims uprootedness, rather than origin and identity, as a political and aesthetic site: “I didn’t have a sense of belonging within language or place; therefore I wanted to establish one for myself, to produce a space where I could exist.” The question she poses is how to produce agency, how to recuperate the erotic, affective, and micropolitical power of gesture within a regulated regime of visibility. From her works’ formal sophistication, from the random flow of codes within and against the tacit score of the normative, streams a sheer unexpected beauty. The endless possibility of improvisation and revolt within a given system of rules radiates from each distorted image and pattern, composed of apparently preset series of bodily interactions.
—Paul B. Preciado