Brooklyn, New York-based Dana Bell (b. 1974) investigates the intricate nuances of body language. Working from film stills, Dana selects scenes based on formal configurations of figures against a background. Silhouetting her figures, Dana casts them in vibrant, high-contrast hues that vibrate off of one another in her paintings and laser-cut plexi works. In her complimentary printmaking process featuring debossed and embossed monochromatic figures, Dana highlights the subtlety of each individual’s posture and gesture, drawing attention to the psychological intent (or mis-intent) of characters within a scene.
Armed with a formalist’s vocabulary, a cleverly abstracted sense of narrativity, a keen eye for the nuances of gesture, and a tendency towards dark, absurdist humor, Dana Bell has delved into cinema’s rich history and emerged with a complex study of physicalized language, one in which embodied psychology is both instrument and corpus.
While turning the aesthetic identity of her filmic source on its head, Bell’s reductive process exposes conscious and subconscious motivation, through highlighting cultural-historical subtext. Her process transforms filmic narrative, creating a semiotic study that reveals the subtle manipulations and learned artifice within human expression. Encoded within gesture, there lies a social history, a cultural psychology in the minutiae, the artifice of articulation.
In Bell’s work, the roots of “learned behavior” are challenged by the linguistics of embodied language. With the negotiation of internal state externalized - stripped bare -the etymology of physical language emerges as ripe for interrogation.
- Dana BellBrooklyn, NYArtist Page