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David Michalek: Figure Studies

Summerhall until September 27th 2012
4 stars

There's something heroic about David Michalek's three-screen sequel of 
sorts to his similarly styled Slow Dancing triptych of larger-than-life 
slo-mo studies of dancers in motion, first seen in 2007. Where in that 
piece five blink-and-you'll-miss-em seconds apiece were stretched out 
to ten minutes of extended play performed by professionals, the 
choreography applied here is to a more diverse array of long, short, 
tall and less whippet-like physiques. Seen largely naked, acting out 
routines of every-day movement, Michalek's subjects – a woman with a 
double mastectomy, a bearded old man shifting bags of cement in his 
Y-Fronts, a couple holding their baby aloft – become monumental pin-ups 
striking a pose, as every sinew, muscle and twitch is accentuated and 
buffed into shape.

As a conscious form of homage to and reinvention of cinematic and 
photographic techniques pioneered in the nineteenth century by Eadward 
Muybridge, Michalek's film may look as glossy as a coffee-table 
magazine spread made flesh. As each figure blurs into the next, 
however, there's a strength beyond the seductively hypnotic display, as 
imperfection blurs into beauty en route.

The List, September 2012



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