On Sunday, Sept. 23, Heidi Latsky Dance of New York City transformed the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Auditorium into a living sculpture garden featuring a diverse cast of 20 performers of various ages, races, genders and abilities. The project, “On Display,” has been described as a commentary on “the body as spectacle, and society’s obsession with body image.”
This was the Washington, D.C., premiere of “On Display,” which was initially conceived to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The 90-minute work came to the NPG following performances in the U.S, Canada, Italy, Greece, Spain and Indonesia.
The performers posed like statues, coming to life for brief periods in carefully choreographed “solos that expose the distinction, fierceness and vulnerability of each performer,” according to choreographer Latsky.
The public was challenged to walk around and approach the performers up close according to each viewer’s own comfort level. Members of the disability, performance and fashion worlds are often stared at and objectified in their daily lives.
The Portrait Gallery’s presentation of “On Display” follows the museum’s ongoing commitment to portraiture as performance. Said NPG Director Kim Sajet: “Since 2006, Heidi Latsky Dance has broken down barriers within and outside the dance world by giving individuals with disabilities a platform. We are delighted to present ‘On Display,’ which addresses themes related to the body as spectacle and how people treat each other based on physical appearance … We hope visitors [leave] with a greater sense of inclusivity and acceptance of others.”
View Jeff Malet’s photos of “On Display” at the National Portrait Gallery by clicking on the photo icons below.