This evening I will premiere a new performance work, The Ultimate Form. The Ultimate Form picks its name from a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, part of The Family of Man in 1970. I found a lot of Hepworth’s work to be very sensual and sexual. When Hepworth talks about any of her sculptures, but particularly The Family of Man, she really invites us to give them a pat, to walk around them, walk through them. I think she almost was suggesting that the human figure could dance with her sculptures.
When I looked at the archetypes that Hepworth had labelled the pieces – The Father, The Mother, The Groom, The Bride, The Youth – it was trying to see how elastic they were. We know now there are gay marriages, there are same-sex parents, so we’re now relatively at ease with this concept.
Hepworth works with wood, metal, bronze, marble; it’s literally weighty work. I work with paper and feather and things that are discarded. I work with scissors and blades, so in the ballet you see various motifs that are really to do with cutting through the air.
You also see Hepworth’s beautiful pierced forms appearing which somehow find their parallels in some of the pornographic imagery that I use, when often women are shown with legs very, very much akimbo so we’re really trying to find that sort of pathway between Hepworth’s wonderful legacy and my own work, mixed in with ballet.
Linder’s work is very explicit, and pornographic at times, and in the ballet world we tend to stay away from that. We don’t really show the crotch to the audience or the bum to the audience. At first, we were like, how are we going to do this? It’s great to be allowed to go there. If you take a show like Sleeping Beauty there’s expectations. You can’t go there and have the legs akimbo and a head coming out of it, you can’t have that. But when you’re being asked to do that then you’re like, how do you do it tastefully and artistically and still get the point across?
Over the years I’ve done many performance works. This is the first time I’ve not participated, so this for me was quite fascinating to really erase myself from the work as much as possible and to work for a position of trust that almost the whole production became a collage. I’ve invited Pam Hogg to do costumes, Stuart McCallum to write the music, Kenneth Tindall to choreograph. Really, I’ve just tried to step back and back and back from the piece, that almost that was the act of collage, was to bring these people together.