Helena Hunter’s work is often described as surreal, striking and intense, with a haunting beauty that mesmerises. The Other Room, commissioned by the Barbican Art Gallery, is a solo movement piece where a half-horse, half-human figure explores the animal self, humiliation and a failure to perform. More recently, dis-locate is an ensemble performance that employs movement, light, chemical materials and a soundtrack. It celebrates the transitory and the ever-shifting, and explores the idea that dislocation is an empowered and disruptive state, where ‘in-between’ is a positive condition that flows and opens us up to transformation.
Research and process are key elements of Helena’s practise, and fundamental to creating the vivid ideas that inform her work. For dis-locate she collaborated with a chemist to include experiments in the final performance, delved into ritual at the Royal Anthropological Institute and explored transcendence with a Sufi dancer. Another key element is her studio based research. “The studio for me is where the magic happens, where I can experiment and go wild with ideas and wrestle them into reality. I love the challenge and seeming impossibility of this…”
The effect is powerful, as novelist, mythographer and cultural historian, Marina Warner attests; “Helena Hunter sculpts with her body the dark conflict between inner and outer selves; this is a hallucinatory and uncompromising act of self-portraiture with powerful contemporary resonance”.