Dying swans

A photographic exhibition created by Edge Hill University lecturers on youth and the ageing performer will be shown in the iconic Bank Street Arts in Sheffield City Centre until mid-September.

Dying Swans and Dragged Up Dames is a set of 20 photographs interpreted by Mark Edward, Senior Lecturer in Performance and photographed, edited and photo-shopped by Dr Helen Newall, Reader in Performing Arts. Each image parodies an iconic performance photograph of a legendary dancer, including Angina Pavlova’s Dying Swan and Marko Fonteyn’s The Fired Bird.

The exhibition underpins Helen and Mark’s research on cultural obsessions with youth and Photoshop, and the erasure of age in both live performance and the digital dark room where ability and beauty can be airbrushed and improved.

Mark explained: “These are tragi-comic images. The tragedy lies in knowing that the dancers we watch will eventually expire in terms of their dancing abilities, the comedy arises from the bombastic contrast between athletic dance bodies and aged bodies, alongside overweight ones attempting and achieving the same balletic feats.

“The exhibition has two threads corresponding to our individual practice as research investigations. My work, as a performance artist, investigates the implications of ageing for dance performers. Helen’s work concerns performance photography, and the dissonances between performance photo-documentation and the performance itself.”

The popularity of the photographs has led to the commissioning of an exhibition which is due to be held at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield for the next two weeks. Bank Street Arts is an innovative cross-disciplinary Arts Centre that provides a home, venue and setting for a wide range of creative individuals and organisations.

The Dying Swans and Dragged Up Dames exhibition is free to view at Bank Street Arts from 3rd September until 16th September, 11am – 4pm. Find out more here.