Bottega Veneta Teamed Up With Top Choreographers to Stage a Series of Dance Performances Inspired by the Art of Bruce Nauman

The Italian fashion house designed costumes for the program, which was organized by the Pinault Collection in Venice.

Lenio Kaklea's
Lenio Kaklea's "Dancing Studies" performance in Venice's Palazzo Grassi, with costumes by Bottega Veneta's Matthieu Blazy. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

For his first collection as creative director of Bottega Veneta, presented last season in Milan, Matthieu Blazy took inspiration from Umberto Boccioni’s Futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), whose striding figure informed the sculptural silhouettes of Blazy’s men’s and women’s suiting.

As the designer said of the brand in a statement: “Because it specializes in bags it is about movement, of going somewhere; there is fundamentally an idea of craft in motion.”

Now, the Italian fashion and luxury goods house is once again returning to source—this time, in its home city of Venice. Bottega Veneta is backing “Dancing Studies” (until June 19, 2022), a series of dance performances taking place across the Pinault Collection’s various spaces, all created in dialogue with its Punta della Dogana exhibition “Bruce Nauman: Contraposto Studies” (until November 27, 2022).

Bruce Nauman, <em>Contrapposto Split</em>, 2017. Installation view, "Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts," 2018, Schaulager, Münchenstein/Basel. Photo: Tom Bisig, Basel. © Bruce Nauman by SIAE 2021.

Bruce Nauman, Contrapposto Split, 2017. Installation view, “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” 2018, Schaulager, Münchenstein/Basel. Photo: Tom Bisig, Basel. © Bruce Nauman by SIAE 2021.

The exhibition features Nauman’s experimental performance, sound, and new-media works focused on the human body, starting with a reinterpretation of his 1968 video Walk with Contrapposto, in which the artist attempted to hold a chiastic pose while walking down a hallway in his studio.

The show’s curators, Carlos Basualdo and Caroline Bourgeois, recruited top choreographers to develop new performances inspired by Nauman’s haptic work. William Forsythe staged the first “Dancing Studies” intervention last month, a two-part affair in the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana.

This week, American dancer and choreographer Pam Tanowitz is presenting Dancing the Studio (until May 5, 2022), an abstract take on Nauman’s Mapping the Studio, whereby her dancers at once rehearse and perform in the foyer of the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi amid video screenings exploring the late Renaissance theme of contrapposto (counterpose)—all of them wearing Bottega Veneta, head to toe.

Lenio Kaklea's <em>Sonatas and Interludes</em> in Venice's Palazzo Grassi, with costumes by Matthieu Blazy. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Lenio Kaklea’s Sonatas and Interludes in Venice’s Palazzo Grassi, with costumes by Matthieu Blazy. Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Blazy also helped design the costumes for performances from the feminist Greek dancer, choreographer, and writer Lenio Kaklea, whose Sonatas and Interludes—inspired by the namesake John Cage composition, and focusing on his experimental work with African-American dancers Syvilla Fort and Pearl Primus—took over the palazzo’s atrium during the Venice Biennale’s opening weekend, in a duet with pianist Orlando Baas.

“I have never worked with a fashion house before and it is not a world that I know,” Kaklea told Artnet News. “Essentially, I am dealing with it as a stranger and much of my performance is about this—it’s about displacement, discovery, and experimentation.”

Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.

Compressed metal cubes from Bottega Veneta’s fall-winter 2022 show served as props for the performers, whose movements were exaggerated by Blazy’s oversize coats and elongated tails. “Despite coming from different worlds, we really seemed to talk the same language from the beginning,” Kaklea said.

For Blazy, teaming up with dancers came naturally. “One of my main preoccupations for the clothing I design for Bottega Veneta is that of movement; the body in motion dictates much of my design,” he told Artnet News. “We meet in a sense of live performance, something both part of and beyond fashion, where costume, clothing, and a radical sense of freedom of expression collide.”

Bottega Veneta will serve as an official partner for the Biennale Danza 2022: The 16th International Festival of Contemporary Dance (July 22-31), entitled “Boundary-less.”


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