Karon Davis Beauty Must Suffer
The exhibition traces the life and labor of Black dancers, from the first encounter with the barre to the final bow
Beauty Must Suffer presents new sculptures in a reconstruction of the tragic love story of Echo and Narcissus. Centering the relationship between dancers and the body as a vessel for performative storytelling, this modern ballet is frozen in time using Davis’ well-known plaster mold casting accompanied by new bronze works and installations of everyday dancewear and ephemera.
The sculptures will channel the struggles and stresses wreaked on the mind and body through seasons of training and practice in the pursuit of a perfect form within the historically white tradition of ballet, building on the myth of Echo and Narcissus as a metaphor for the dancers’ performance of self and their ability to translate the pain of being human to the stage.
Accompanying the sculptures in plaster and bronze are a series of larger installations that recreate native spaces of the ballet and theater with materials close to the dancer, weaving objects used to wrap, bolster, constrain, and conceal the body throughout the exhibition. Pointe shoes feature prominently in these installations, revealing the laborious physicality and exertion behind effortless performance.
Beauty Must Suffer will extend on New York's High Line in Chelsea with the unveiling of Curtain Call (2023), a large scale bowing ballerina in bronze, in mid-October 2023.
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