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Alexandra Bachzetsis

Alexandra Bachzetsis, born in Zurich in 1974, is an artist, performer, and choreographer. For her, contemporary dance arises from modern forms of communication, mass media, pop music and the internet. Dance – like painting, architecture, literature, advertising, cinema, fashion, and pornography – combines different disciplines and representational systems for Bachzetsis.

This fundamental interdisciplinary approach is reflected in her training. The artist studied at the Liceo Artistico in Zurich, the Scuola Teatro Dimitri in Verscio and participated in the Performance Education Programme at the Kunstzentrum STUK in Leuven, Belgium. This was followed by a master’s degree at DasArts (De Amsterdamse School/Advanced Research in Theatre and Dance Studies). During her training Bachzetsis started working as a dancer in the contemporary dance and performance scene, collaborating with Sasha Waltz & Guests (Berlin), Christine De Smedt and Koen Augustijnen of Les Ballets C de la B (Ghent). Since 2001, she has been working independently, producing and presenting her work in various theatres and on the art scene.

Many of Bachzetsis’ works explore choreographies of the body; particularly how popular culture provides the raw material for expression and identification through the constant recreation of our bodies and identification forms. The question of how we perform and stage our bodies and ourselves – through stereotype and archetype, through decision and cliché, through work and performance– is fundamental to Bachzetsis’ work. For her, Fred Astaire, Bob Dylan, Michelangelo Antonioni, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Michael Jackson are just as important as Trisha Brown and Lina Bo Bardi. The artist, the daughter of a Swiss mother and a Greek father, does not declare origin and identity, but, rather, declares a lack of roots to a political and aesthetic arena: “Neither places nor languages gave me a sense of belonging. So, I wanted to create one, a space in which I could exist.”

The beginning of Bachzetsis’ choreographic career is marked by Perfect (2010); collaborations with numerous artists followed in more than 25 performance pieces, including Gold (2004), Show Dance (2004), Undressed (2005), Dream Season (2008), Étude (2012), and From A to B via C (2014). PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me (2016), a solo project, better reflects Bachzetsis’ current work approach.

Bachzetsis has received numerous prizes and distinctions for her work, including the Migros Culture Promotion Jubilee Award, 2007; a grant for her work as a choreographer from the City of Zurich, 2009; an award from the Art Directorate of the Canton of Basel-Land for her performance Bluff, 2010; the Swiss Art Award 2011; and the Swiss Performance Prize, 2012. Additionally, Bachzetsis participated in various exhibitions: in 2008, she had a large solo exhibition curated by Adam Szymczyk, Show, in the Kunsthalle Basel and participated in the 5th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art. In the context of the interdisciplinary project Performative Structures (directed by Sabine Rusterholz), Bachzetsis presented her solo exhibition Play at Kunsthaus Glarus in 2010. That same year, she also participated in the group exhibition Performative Structures. New Existentialism, Part 1, curated by Alexandra Blättler at the Museum Alte Fabrik in Rapperswil, Switzerland. Her works were also shown at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2013 and 2015, at the Tate Modern in London and at the Jumex Museum in Mexico City in 2014. In 2016, she participated in the public programmes The Parliament of Bodies and Continuum of the documenta 14. In January 2017, she presented Massacre: Variations on a Theme at MoMA in New York. In 2017, she is re-presented at documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens with her latest play Private Song, and, in Kassel, also with a video installation, Studies for Massacre - Seven Stages.

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