Geyer’s critically-oriented work ranges across media, incorporating text, photography, painting, sculpture, video, and performance. It explores the complex politics of time in the context of specific social and political situations, cultural institutions, and historical events. From her early investigations into urban environments, cultural landscapes, and notions of citizenship to more recent research into women’s contributions to modernism, Geyer’s work continuously seeks to create spaces of critical, collective reflection on the construction of histories and ideas that are otherwise marginalized or obscured. Uniting all of Geyer’s ambitious work is the belief that “art should be a site to offer the possibility of re-orientation(s) towards a current moment.”
Truly Spun Never (2016) stems from Geyer’s investigation into the political history of “Ausdruckstanz” (expressive dance) emerging in Germany between 1910 and 1940. With its celebration of natural movements, emotions, and sensuality, “German dance,” in stark contrast to other modern art forms such as poetry, theater, painting, or sculpture, was not considered degenerate. The physical liberation of dancers like Rudolph Laban and Mary Wigmann served as a smokescreen for the repressive cultural politics of the Third Reich at large. Funded from 1933 onward by Goebbel’s ministry of propaganda, dancers who chose to remain in Germany removed all “non-Aryan” dancers from their schools and companies, and yet insisted that dance existed as a “pure” art form outside the realm of politics. Geyer’s work has always contested such a notion that art exists outside of life and/or politics.
Originally commissioned by the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Truly Spun Never is a three-channel video installation that stages an interaction between a scholar and six dancers. Over the course of its 25-minute duration, the dancers rehearse spins, while the critic attempts to speak to them: “Should there ever be refuge in movement? Should there be shelter in practice? One body moves many, like an instrument played, a community forming, a movement moving, moved.” Geyer’s script, based on her signature approach of layering found texts, archival, and original material, brings together the writings of key figures in the development of expressive dance including Rudolf von Laban, Fritz Böhm, Joseph Levitan, and Mary Wigman, as well as poems by Paul Celan, whose words bear witness to the excruciating reality of the time these dancers were active.
In its multi-layered interactions across movement, speech, poetry, and identity, Truly Spun Never slips from the past into the present moment. It addresses the state’s intervention into the privacy of a body (through dance), while materializing it as a social and political site that is implicated and activated by national ideologies. “What is rhythm to time? What is rhythm to ideology?” asks the scholar. The dancers answer by leading the viewers into the complex labyrinth of history and memory, culture and ideology. They do so not by using words, but instead by insisting on the irrefutable and powerful presence and transgressive knowledge of their moving bodies.