Staging the Derra de Moroda Dance Archives

With new works by Jonathan Burrows, Philipp Gehmacher, Andrea Geyer, Ulrike Lienbacher, Kelly Nipper, Paulina Olowska, Lia Perjovschi, Eszter Salamon, Ania Soliman, Sergei Tcherepnin

March 19 to July 3, 2016

This exhibition was inspired by the Derra de Moroda Dance Archives, which have been at the University of Salzburg since 1978. The interdisciplinary project takes the treasures in this extensive collection as the backdrop for an artistic reflection on 1920s and 1930s dance culture and dance’s standing in the museum today. The multifaceted dance culture of the time was defined by fertile creative tensions between classical dance and expressive Ausdruckstanz, between theatrical, ethnic, and social dance formats, spurring a quest for new ways to convey the effect of dance performances in a variety of media. It is the first time the Museum der Moderne Salzburg has commissioned a considerable number of new works to be produced for presentation in one of its exhibitions. The show thus draws a unique connection between what is known as (dance) modernism and contemporary art.

The archive is named after its founder, the artist, teacher, choreographer, scholar, and collector Friderica Derra de Moroda (b. Bratislava, 1897; d. Salzburg, 1978), who played a prominent role in the history of twentieth-century dance. In the 1920s—she was living in London at the time—Derra de Moroda started systematically collecting a wide variety of dance-related documents, laying the foundations for one of the earliest archives of its kind in Europe. The extensive collection now includes published materials on dance and neighboring fields from six centuries.

The show interweaves two distinct expositions: important artifacts from the archives are on display in five spaces that frame new works by contemporary artists that make their public debut at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. It surveys the archive’s holdings in four thematic divisions: Dance elsewhere, Writing movement, Correspondences, and Conceiving modern dance. A fifth room is dedicated to Derra de Moroda herself. The itinerary leads through arrangements of selections from the archives in dialogue with works by ten contemporary artists from six countries in media ranging from painting, drawing, and collage across video and sound installations to performance art.

The exhibition was organized in cooperation with the University of Salzburg, Dance Studies.

Project director: Sabine Breitwieser                                                                                                                      Project partners: Irene Brandenburg, Nicole Haitzinger, Claudia Jeschke, University of Salzburg, Dance Studies Curatorial Assistants: Andrea Lehner, Verena Österreicher                                                                             Exhibition design: Kuehn Malvezzi