Thinking of the words ‘art gallery’ and ‘body suspension’ being used together, I can’t help but be excited. Even with as often as I suspend, every single time I view it as an absolutely beautiful moment; to see a group take that and portray it in a tasteful and artistic way to people who typically might never be exposed to it, I think is wonderful. When I was first sent information about Bardo, which formed in Seattle back in 2003, my first thought was trying to figure out what this group was; a suspension team, performance group, art project? Turns out it’s all of that and a little more.
When Bardo was first created by founder Christopher Jennell, he drew much of his inspiration from the incredible work of Stelarc. He and the other members began with a focus on exploring the perception of pain. Their early shows were dark, thought provoking pieces that aimed to push the limits of their bodies while taking out the elements of human expression such as pain or emotion. Whether your reaction to being suspended is that of complete joy or an intense mental challenge, those who have gone up can appreciate the level of control it would take to visibly remain utterly emotionles to the experience.
There are several influences, such as CoRE and Operafication, that have played a role in the evolution that Bardo has gone through since those early days. Christopher had been involved with art shows and galleries for quite some time, and with body suspension being his creative medium, it’s only natural that he would work to bring the two together. With the new art installations they are creating, their focus has shifted to the beauty of the human form. This change has brought them into a much different realm from their original performances, and the response from the art community toward them has very positive and inviting.
With their growth as performers, there also came the physical growth of the team. They now have two chapters thanks to the support and help of Brien Sherman and Judah Strumbone. The two of them manage the Seattle portion of the team, while Chris heads up the Albuquerque chapter. Both parts of the team work together as a whole to make these art installations possible. They are currently focusing on their upcoming one night art events that they will be performing, as well as looking into the idea of collaborative performances with other artists and practitioners. Keep an eye on their website, as well as on Hook Life to see more information about these wonderful events that Bardo will be bringing you.
Thank you for the photos and the information Chris. I look forward to seeing the amazing things your team creates as you move along.