Dancing girls

If you were holding off on going to Locks Gallery because the additional Jennifer Steinkamp video hadn’t yet arrived (see Roberta’s post on its absence and on the remainder of the show), it’s now there. And if you already went and missed Steinkamp’s second video, go back now.
“Dance Hall Girl #9,” like the larger “Cleopatra,” is flower-based and riveting. It’s an image of rampions (a kind of flower) projected at floor level up to about knee height, so they seem the size of real flowers, except they’re oddly sexy and predatory. The corollas of petals somehow seeming to grasp as they bow and preen and display their glory. The way the flowers silently move on a blank background, not reponding to anything like wind but responding to some self-generated force gives the plants an intentionality that is downright creepy and beautiful at the same time.

Check out Steinkamp’s really great web page, which has lots of little clips of her computer-generated flower pieces as well as lots of other work. You can see clips from a bouquet of the Dance Hall Girl videos there, including #9.

Here’s are some tidbits about rampion, also called ramps, the subject of “Dance Hall Girl #9”:


There is an Italian tradition that the possession of a rampion excites quarrels among children. The plant figures in one of Grimm’s tales, the heroine, Rapunzel, being named after it, and the whole plot is woven around the theft of rampions from a magician’s garden. In an old Calabrian tale, a maiden, uprooting a rampion in a field, discovers a staircase that leads to a palace far down in the depths of the earth.

(There’s more about the plant and its culinary uses here.)

Interestingly enough, Steinkamp has a room installation called “Rapunzel” on exhibition at Lehmann Maupin gallery as we type, up until June 25. I’d rush right over if I were in New York.


An fyi on technique: Steinkamp draws these flowers, petal by petal, on the computer and then animates them, according to an item I found via her website.