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Alexandra Bachzetsis, “PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me” (2016), at Kunstverein Hannover (photo © China Hopson)

It’s not news that the images we consume are charged with codes about how we interpret gender, race, age, class, ability, and more. But the artist and former professional dancer Alexandra Bachzetsis encourages us to think more critically and proactively about those codes in her performances, which reframe and reinterpret movements sourced from wrestling moves and Hollywood cinema to Greek dance traditions and historical representations of love and conflict, particularly as they pertain to and shape women’s behavior.

“I try to analyze extreme forms of gesture and movement in genres that follow specific codes, such as pole dancing, tecktonik, clubbing, vogueing, R&B, tap dancing, and the languages of everyday movement in different cultures,” Bachzetsis told Frieze in 2013. “I use these types of physical expression for what they are: I directly appropriate them — and the technical skills of their users — and place them in a neutral context where they appear as physical practices akin to established modes of expression, such as classical ballet or professional sports. I urge the audience to take a critical, dialectical position to my work.”

Beginning Monday, Bachzetsis will be performing two works — “PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me,” a solo piece from 2016, and “Private Song,” a three-person piece with Sotiris Vasiliou, and Thibault Lac — on the High Line. Staged on the portion of the elevated park near 14th Street, the nightly performances will challenge passersby to not only identify gestures’ and movements’ sources, from aerobics to adult films, but also to interpret their implied meanings. In doing so, Bachzetsis asks us to be more self-aware about how we integrate and repeat the movements and gestures absorbed from the surrounding culture.

When: June 25–28, 8–9pm
Where: The High Line at 14th Street (West 14ht Street near Tenth Avenue, Meatpacking District, Manhattan)

Alexandra Bachzetsis, “PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me” (2016) (photo © Blommers & Schumm)

More info at the High Line.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...