Surfing The Shadow (2007), photo by Karen Bernard
Emily Harvey Foundation, Venice, Italy (2016)
photo by Scott Wixon
Karen Bernard has a history of creating solo dances that challenge audiences to engage in a specific reality of everyday life issues contextualized into heightened performative experience. Bernard has a life long ambition of making “smart art with unpredictable choices” and in the process she works to keep people on the edge of their expectations. Paramount in Bernard’s creation of dance-work is the erasure of the “fourth wall” between performer and spectator. Bernard sees her audience as an active participant beyond the fact that they have chosen to place themselves in the seats they sit in. Aware of her audience as active witnesses influences the content and delivery of Bernard’s work in a way that highlights the subtle proximity defining a public and private moment. Bernard anticipates that her audience walks away from her work sourcing pleasure in a common and shared experience. Bernard’s work contributes to an active contemporary dialogue of the dichotomy of high art and marginalized art polarizing the modern American experience of the non-institutionalized, under-appreciated performance artist. Her work also contributes to the continuing dialogue of socially accepted ideas of beauty and age and its relevance to performing live dance works.