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Sriwhana Spong

Recreating the dance

Costume for a Mourner re-imagines a dance from Le Chant du Rossignol. This ballet, based on Hans Christian Anderson's tale, The Nightingale, was originally performed in the 1920s by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, with a score by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine. French artist Henri Matisse designed the set and costumes.

Since Diaghilev famously refused to allow his dancers to be filmed, Sriwhana Spong worked from photographs of the dancers and their costumes, and from the score, to recreate the Mourner's costume and choreography.

Spong, an emerging artist, is exploring the way art can draw upon fragments from history to re-imagine a past event or performance. This is her first work acquired for Te Papa's collection.

Watch an interview with Sriwhana Spong

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, June 2011.

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