Since 2011, the collective Barbara Cleveland has produced a body of work exploring the life and legacy of their namesake: the mythic Australian performance artist Barbara Cleveland (1945–81). The single-channel video Bodies in Time (2016) belongs to this cycle. Its genesis is a series of scores made by Cleveland in 1973, which cite gestures from the history of twentieth-century dance and visual art performance.

Bodies in Time attends to the blind spots and biases that haunt art history and suggests the possibilities for ‘doing history’ differently, using performance as both material and method. By dancing history, the artists return ephemeral practices from the past into view and reinscribe the (primarily female) body within a more expansive canon, one alert to the intersection between different forms of historical exclusion and amnesia.

Anneke Jaspers