Margaret Roberts, Dance 2019, plywood, Scenic paint, black shoe polish, floor/wall; shown in CLEAVE 2019 at Articulate project space, June 2019. Its subject is Sophie Taeuber’s 37cm x 27cm gouache painting Composition vertical-horizontal of 1928, expanded (by about 6 times) to human body-size at 240cm x 135cm, and located on the floor as 5 moveable parts. Photo: Jessica Maurer.

CLEAVE 2019 shows the work of Lisa Andrew, Karen Banks, Linden Braye, Jenny Brown, Sue Callanan, Socorro Cifuentes, Ben Denham, Nola Farman, WeiZen Ho, Fiona Kemp/Virginia Hilyard, Jacek Przybyszewski and Margaret Roberts. The above image shows other works in CLEAVE 2019: barely visible on wall at left: Nola Farnam The Hermit’s Tablecloth (Version 3); under stairs: Virginia Hilyard/FionaKemp PARE 2019; left: Lisa Andrew HighWayWear 2019; back: Jacek Przybyszewski TearWalkingimages 2019; above back: WeiZen Ho The Subtle Beings Installation, 2018

Extract from CLEAVE catalogue, CLEAVE 2019- artists ask artists about their work:

Ben Denham: What does this process of bringing a 2d work into space do for you and our understanding as viewers?

Margaret Roberts: I am interested in the content communicated by the form of artwork—what Marshall McLuhan means by the medium is the message.  By bringing a 2d work into space (or bringing space into a 2d work) I am hoping to interrupt what the spatial autonomy of 2d artforms communicates when no role is given to place in their construction of meaning. I hope to interrupt the role spatially autonomous artforms thereby play in advocating for and legitimising social values, in particular the devaluation of place that underlies modern culture. I hope to communicate a revaluation of place by adapting and using artforms to give place a role in their construction of meaning, to act as a model for a better way of regarding place.

However, this is the third time I have remade Sophie Taeuber’s works in this way, and am increasingly curious about what she was intending with her so-called ‘abstractions’. It thus came as a pleasant surprise to realise recently that her 2d works are probably coded for their physical location, and perhaps just waiting to be engaged somehow with the physicality of the space they occupy. I always expected something like this because her broad practice is based in dance, applied arts and architecture and the fine arts emphasis came later in her career.

I realised the coding in her ‘abstractions’ because they seem to be a type of notation of human movement coming out of her early experience studying dance with Rudolph Laban in her native Switzerland.  The Labannotation now used as dance notation can be seen in the shapes and tones that make up the ‘abstract’ paintings she designed in the decades after her dance work. This means that the mobilising and enlarging of her 'Vertical-Horizontal Composition' of 1928 is a way of carrying out the work’s own instructions to dance.

To see the Labanotation in Taeuber's Composition vertical-horizontal of 1928, compare the shapes and tones in that painting with those used in Labanotation shown on This may enable Composition vertical-horizontal of 1928 to be read as a score for a specific movement, as well as to suggest a way in which Taeuber constructs acknowledgement and collaboration between the abstract space of her painting and the physical space in which it is located.

photo: Jessica Maurer.

Coincidentally, chalk-traces of the title of an earlier exhibition by Stephen Sullivan, Heidelberg's Sophie : Piet, are visible on the bricks to the left of the Dance part propped against the wall, as can be seen in the above image. Stephen made this exhibition at Articulate while studying the work of Piet Mondrian and Sophie Taeuber in 2011. While that was a solo exhibition, the remnants are a reminder that my previous collaborations with Stephen (the last being 2012) underly my interest in Taeuber's work now.

Other re-makes of Sophie Taeuber works: Sophie's Circles, Sophie'sCostume, Wait for Sophie, 96 and Plan.