Akarova in Brussels: artistic invention across media 1910s-1930s

A dialogue between Anne-Claire Schmitz and Christophe Wavelet

How and what does an archive communicate? How do historical records open up new insights into the conditions which underlie the motivation behind a gesture or a physical activity? How would one 'reiterate' or 'reread' the work of Akarova whose heritage can merely be shared with a public through photographs, oral descriptions, and imagination? Akarova's archive doesn’t contain filmed documents or scores of her choreographies. All that remains are programmes, old photographs, drawings, costumes, and engravings, complicating an understanding of how Akarova danced while forcing the researcher to take the place of an 'imagined spectator'.

Departing from a selection of documents, photographs and notes from Akarova's fund – generously made available by CIVA —, as well as from publications (dedicated to the works of Bakst, Nijinski, Fortuny, the Sacharoffs, Goncharova, Exter, Depero, Léger, Schlemmer, Mayerová, Cahun, Stölzl, Arndt and others), Christophe Wavelet will delve into a set of questions : how did artistic inventions from the 1910-30s avantgardes quickly circulate throughout Europe? How could categories such as that of the "archive" or "reenactment" be called into question anew? How does the dialogue between the arts and across media allow for a counter-narrative of artistic modernity?


A curator, scholar and critic, his practices are dedicated to projects whose priority is both experimental and speculative, regardless of any medium specificity. Operating within numerous cultural areas for the last three decades, he’s been the artistic director of LiFE (2005-2010), a transnational contemporary arts venue in France. He currently teaches at European art schools, including ERG and PARTS in Brussels. Having reenacted stage works by Francis Picabia, Oskar Schlemmer and Yvonne Rainer, he's currently working on a series of films that focus on artists and curator’s libraries.