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FRANÇOISE SERGY

performances

 

Dance was Françoise’s first love. Born and brought up in Switzerland, she came to London in 1975 to study contemporary dance. She then slowly established herself as a dance artist, always performing on her own but creating works in collaboration with visual artists, photographers and choreographers. She then developed skills as a photographer and installation artist.

 

Most of her performance works were made between 1982 and 2000 and the shows toured widely in the UK and Switzerland. Her main themes were women’s issues and feminist aesthetics, particularly the way the body is defined and perceived in western culture. Her signature style combined dance, projected slides and installations, creating highly visual and emotional works.

 

On this page are presented performance works made in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. For videos and information about her early and late works, go to this other page.

 

"One of Sergy’s most apparent gifts as a conceptualist and performer is her ability to convey serious statements in a gently powerful and often humorous way." (review, Arteast, UK)

 

“At one with her visual images and surrounded by sounds, screams, music soft or tearing, Françoise Sergy opposes their raw violence with fluid movements, infinitely supple and tender. Beyond aesthetics, this is the language of authentic pain, recognised and left behind.” (review, La Presse, Switzerland)

 

Introduction Video

filmed at Colchester Arts Centre (UK) before a performance of The Rebelonging (1992). 

 

 

 

Performance Works (late 1980s)

 

 

Barefoot Pace-Maker

(video not available)

Barefoot Pace-Maker

a dance performance by Françoise Sergy (1987)

a collaboration with photography artist Rosy Martin

commissioned by Chisenhale Dance Space and Camerawork, London (UK)

funded by Greater London Arts, Lambeth Arts Council, 1987 DEC Dance Awards

UK tour: 19 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

"This is barefoot medicine. A woman grabs the stethoscope and sets the pace. From a child’s view on smoking to how we treat our doctors, it’s all here, pulsing, magnified, the burning question on the life line: our health, is it given, is it made, and do we really care?

 

Barefoot Pace-Maker is an experiment between dancer Françoise Sergy and photographer Rosy Martin. Using a technique called Phototherapy developed by Rosy Martin and Jo Spence, we invent situations, sometimes triggered from the past, sometimes not, and play all the characters: doctor, patient, healer, smoker, addictions, pills, pains, fear, touching the child in us, our own vulnerability.”

 

This performance work was never filmed. However, a selection of the Phototherapy images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • orgy
  • orgy
  • orgy
  • smoking
  • smoking
  • smoking
  • patient
  • doctor
  • patient
  • healing
  • healing
  • healing
orgy

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Sweets Orgy (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

orgy

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Sweets Orgy (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

orgy

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Sweets Orgy (3) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

smoking

Barefoot Pace-Maker

First and last cigarette, aged 5 (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

smoking

Barefoot Pace-Maker

First and last cigarette, aged 5 (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

smoking

Barefoot Pace-Maker

First and last cigarette, aged 5 (3) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

patient

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Doctor / Patient (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

doctor

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Doctor / Patient (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

patient

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Doctor / Patient (3) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

dance

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Dance Healer (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

dance

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Dance Healer (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

dance

Barefoot Pace-Maker

Dance Healer (3) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

 

Gold

(video not available)

Gold

a dance and installation performance by Françoise Sergy (1988)

a collaboration with photographers Rosy Martin and Honey Salvadori

funded by Greater London Arts and Yorkshire Arts

UK tour: 15 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“GOLD is about wealth and the ecstasy of wanting. Our love affair with consumerism. Projected slides and giant costumes transform the performer’s dance into a deliberate confrontation. She is the symbol of money, perilously parading the altar of her own consuming passion. A succession of icons appear: a television, a department store, a Christmas tree, a wedding dress, a fruit machine, complete with multi-coloured lights and chocolate money. Someone uses cake decorations as make-up and there as four brides on offer, all guaranteed to find a niche in your purse and satisfy your dreams of happiness.

 

When everything has been taken away, our needs still remain. There is no way of measuring satisfaction. She will discover her needs. She will cherish them, nurture them. She will become the consumer of her own destiny.”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • bride
  • smile
  • gold icon
  • gold icon
  • gold icon
  • gold icon
bride

Gold

Knobs and Knockers Bride (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

smile

Gold

Edible Make-up (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

gold icon

Gold

Gold Icon (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

gold icon

Gold

Gold Icon (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

gold icon

Gold

Living Fruit Machine (1) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

gold icon

Gold

Living Fruit Machine (2) (phototherapy: Rosy Martin and Françoise Sergy).

 

Around Woman

(video not available)

Around Woman

a dance performance and installation by Françoise Sergy (1989)

a commission by Yorkshire Arts

a residency at Norton College, Sheffield (UK)

funded by Greater London Arts

UK tour: 27 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“Around Woman is a visual feast in honour of the common body, a dance daring to feel, touch, accept and cherish our own physical self. Abstract colour slides are projected onto large silk panels and directly onto the performer whose costumes include a dress made out of shimmering glass. The photographs zoom in to reveal the beauty of the most despised, tabooed parts of our body: hair, fat, muscles. A woman’s body whose issue has never been more political is celebrated amidst wonderful images and flying energy.”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • Around Woman
  • Around Woman
  • Around Woman
  • Around Woman
  • Around Woman
  • Around Woman
Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait with Lights (1).

Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait with Lights (2).

Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait with Lights (3).

Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait with Lights (4).

Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait with Lights (5).

Around Woman

Around Woman

Self-Portrait Dancing.

 

The Battle of the Sizes

(video not available)

Battle

a dance performance and installation by Françoise Sergy (1990)

(Around Woman part 2)

UK tour: 12 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“A woman comes face to face with the monster inside her own body. Dying to be thin. Starving, bingeing. Our bodies are wrong, our bodies are all we have. Kill the hated flesh, dissolve it, chop it up, dispose of it. Thinness is perfection.

 

Underneath we’re all hairy.

 

The Battle of the Sizes is part 2 of Around Woman, both pieces performed together. Dance, slides, shadows, costumes, mirrors with feelings of their own and a herd of fat balloons, all take over the stage. Through their poignant tales of whispered agony and rage, she shrugs off years of deception and self-doubt and presents her own, totally unacceptable image: big, bold, scary, funny, full and shining.”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • stocking
  • pins
  • mirror
  • mirror
  • mirror
  • mirror
stocking

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Stocking.

pins

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Pins.

mirror

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Distorting Mirror (1).

mirror

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Distorting Mirror (2).

mirror

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Distorting Mirror (3).

mirror

The Battle of the Sizes

Self-Portrait with Distorting Mirror (4).

 

 

 

 

Performance Works (early 1990s)

 

 

The Rebelonging

(video not available)

rebel

a dance performance and installation by Françoise Sergy (1991)

funded by Greater London Arts and Acton Community Arts Workshop

tour to UK and Switzerland: 12 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“No way home. On her own. Was it by choice or was she pushed? This is the story of a woman’s life uprooted, a woman alone, alien, carrying her past on her back, an everyday rebel longing and dreaming of a future where she could belong.

 

Françoise writes: “My father died in May 1991, while I was working on this piece. Later that summer I returned to Switzerland and revisited the home of my early childhood, where he had lived for the past forty years. The old sawmill, his business and passion, stood, completely empty in the dusty sunlight. My father had always wanted a son, because he thought a son would carry on the family business. I took images of the sawmill, to give them a new home, with me forever.”

 

Rootlessness has many shapes: political, economical, emotional... one can experience being held in or out, and one can experience being held both in and out at the same time.”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • sawmill
  • sawmill
  • mud
  • mud
  • on her own
  • no way home
  • femaleness
  • woman's place
  • woman's place
sawmill

The Rebelonging

My father’s empty sawmill, after his death, Switzerland (1).

sawmill

The Rebelonging

My father’s empty sawmill, after his death, Switzerland (2).

mud

The Rebelonging

Self-Portrait with Mud (1).

mud

The Rebelonging

Self-Portrait with Mud (2).

on her own

The Rebelonging

On Her Own.

no way home

The Rebelonging

No Way Home.

femaleness

The Rebelonging

Femaleness.

woman's place

The Rebelonging

A Woman's Place (1).

woman's place

The Rebelonging

A Woman's Place (2).

 

R-Age

(video not available)

octopus

a dance performance and installation by Françoise Sergy (1992)

Tour to UK, Switzerland and Mexico: 10 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“For the first time, in a series of bold visual images, Françoise Sergy experiments with the use of the male body as a symbol of our own physical vulnerability.

 

As. Soone. As. Wee. To. Bee. Begynne:

We. Did. Beginne. To. Bee. Undone.

(17th century engraving)

 

R-Age is about ageing. Because we can - we must - trust that our bodies are all we have. But can we really face the fear?”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • egg yolk
  • mould
  • octopus
  • eye
  • male
  • male
egg yolk

R-Age

Egg Yolks.

mould

R-Age

Mould.

octopus

R-Age

Man and Octopus.

eye

R-Age

Stone Eye.

male

R-Age

Male Body.

male

R-Age

Male Body in Stone.

 

Crumbled

(video not available)

clock

a dance performance and installation by Françoise Sergy (1994)

UK tour: 9 venues

 

A quote from the original programme:

 

“This woman is not afraid of being alone.

 

Or is she? Her new work, Crumbled, is about a home, lost in the past, found in the present, weighed down by memories. It is about the security of the material world, solid, real, like a brick or the blow of a hammer - but what is going on inside? Carefully edging between the comfort of the familiar and the terror of losing everything, a story unfolds of someone, somewhere, opening a door...”

 

The video recording of this work is of poor quality, so not featured here. However, a selection of the images which were part of the installation can be seen below.

 

  • clock
  • child
  • sofa
  • tea pot
  • telephone
  • kettle
clock

Crumbled

Alarm Clock.

Crumbled

A child’s View.

sofa

Crumbled

Sofa Springs.

tea pot

Crumbled

Tea Pot.

telephone

Crumbled

Telephone.

kettle

Crumbled

Boiling Water.