Dancing at the Edge of the World: Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome

7 February - 13 July 2020

Saelia Aparicio

Charlotte Colbert

Monika Grabuschnigg

Zsófia Keresztes

Alexi Marshall

Florence Peake

Proudick (Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot)

Megan Rooney

Eve Stainton


curated by 

Marcelle Joseph


z2o Sara Zanin Gallery

via della Vetrina, 21

00186 Rome


‘...when women speak truly, they speak subversively -- they can't help it: 

if you're underneath, if you're kept down, you break out, you subvert. 

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, 

as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains’. 


Ursula K. Le Guin 

Bryn Mawr Commencement Address (1986)in Dancing at the Edge of the World (1989))


To make a new world you start with an old one, certainly. 

To find a world, maybe you have to have lost one. Maybe you have to be lost. 

This dance of renewal, the dance that made the world, was always danced here 

at the edge of things, on the brink, on the foggy coast.


Ursula K. Le Guin

(World-Making (1981) inDancing at the Edge of the World (1989))


Appropriating the title of Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1989 non-fiction collection, Dancing at the Edge of the World, this group exhibition envisions a futuristic, alternative world where humankind speaks what Le Guin calls the ‘mother tongue’, the language that encourages relations, networks and exchanges, instead of the forked ‘father tongue’ – the language of power spoken by ‘Civilised Man’ who sees the rest of society in a terminal dichotomy of subject/object, self/other, male/female, mind/body, active/passive, Man/Nature, dominant/submissive. The exhibition itself will be a centre of subversive feminist activity where the body – fleshy, often leaky and sometimes desirous - is omnipresent but never separated from the mind. The artists in this exhibition invade their own privacy to explore embodiment and representation in an anarchic and self-realising strategy of empowerment. There will be artworks that have an eruptive feeling that echo the universes that can be found in Le Guin’s novels that yearn for a feminist or non-binary utopia - a new universalism of sorts, devoid of inequality, domination and exploitation and full of feminine pleasure. 


At the centre of this exhibition will be a ‘drawing in space’ in the form of a king-sized canopy bed complete with a queen’s crown made by Charlotte Colbert that will be activated through performance on Wednesday, 26thFebruary 2020. Florence Peake and Eve Stainton will perform a volcanic duet, using the intimacy of their lesbian polyamorous relationship to elevate the marginalised affection, sexuality, power and energy of the sensual and visceral queer body. The backdrop of this performative space will be a giant wall mural produced specifically for this exhibition by Saelia Aparicio. Another performance will take place on the opening night when Proudick (the artist duo and collaborative artistic enterprise founded by Lindsey Mendick and Paloma Proudfoot) transform themselves into shopkeepers to man their designer shoe shop - that quintessential haven of aspirational feminine desire.


In this exhibition, to quote Le Guin one last time, these ten female-identifying artists ‘dance[ ]… at the edge of things’ in order to rid the old world of its populist, patriarchal tendencies that have persisted in the oppression and othering of humans that lay outside a narrow demographic of power and genius and to build a new world where marginalised communities are not always on the verge of becoming but have become fully actualised humans with all the rights and privileges of ‘Civilised Man’.