– Spring/Summer 2004

Cross Over

Suzanne Cotter

For almost twenty-five years Michael Clark has been redefining the nature and limits of contemporary dance. His perversely virtuoso and anarchic choreography and the absurdist staging of his performances have radicalised dance's relationship to itself and to its audience.Key to his work has been an openness to the possibilities offered by music and the visual arts. In the 1980s, his status attained almost pop-star proportions as people flocked to see his flamboyant stage performances conceived in collaboration with musicians and performers such as Wire, The Fall, Trojan and Leigh Bowery who were all operating within what were then the marginalised spheres of intellectual, pop and club culture. Clark's close relationship with artists also made him a prominent figure within the British art scene, invited to perform in gallery spaces and exhibition contexts, and to present 'museum pieces' around the country throughout the 1980s. In 1989 the gallerist Anthony d'Offay, a supporter and friend, invited Clark to make a new work in his gallery. Heterospective was a week-long series of extremely personal and surreal performances by Clark with his then lover in the upstairs gallery in Dering Street. Performed each evening to an audience of no more than fifty people, it began with a naked, or semi-naked Clark and his partner purportedly having sex on a large bed towards the back of the space. Clark then danced in the centre of the space in a costume made up largely of syringes and needles. At a certain point, from behind the drawn blinds that covered the windows, Leigh Bowery and the performer Pearl appeared wielding hatchets and chasing a dark wig that scurried across the floor of the

  1. I am grateful to Judy Adam and Lorcan O'Neill for their accounts of Clark's performance.

  2. White Cube, London, 21 October-6 December 2003

  3. In conversation with the author, February 2004. 'The British Art Show 3' toured to McLellan Galleries, Glasgow, Leeds City Art Gallery and Hayward Gallery, London.

  4. In conversation with the author, February 2004

  5. In conversation with the author, February 2004

  6. In conversation with the author, January 2004

  7. In conversation with the author. I am grateful to Cerith Wyn Evans for his recollections of performances with Clark and for his insights into Clark's work.

  8. In conversation with the author, February 2004

  9. Interview with Adrian Searle, The Guardian, 24 October 2001

  10. In conversation with the author, January 2004