Lisa Bufano is a dancer, choreographer and performance artist who investigates matters of movement, illusion and physicality.
While studying animation and sculpture at the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Bufano suffered a serious illness and at the age of 21 had her fingers and both of her legs below the knee amputated. After graduating, Bufano established herself as a visual artist before being introduced to NY based choreographer Heidi Latsky and the AXIS dance company.
Working from a basis as a gymnast, Bufano began creating performances that explored the dynamic between the perfect and imperfect self. Her continuing “Morphology” project utilizes various prosthetics, including wooden Queen Anne style stilts built by sculptor Jason Karakhein, and a mermaid’s tail for underwater performance that was developed as part of a Design Squad Engineering challenge. Bufano creates live and taped performances that she says explore “themes such as the conspicuous nature of possessing a deformed body in public, achieving acceptance through merit… and the quest to evolve para-human abilities through technology.”
Perhaps her most well known work of the Morphology series to date, ‘Five Open Mouths’, choreographed in 2006 by Latsky, is a deeply personal account of Bufano’s transformation into her current form, and references the five open wounds that she experienced after losing her fingers. Bufano’s most recent work, produced in 2010 as part of an Idaho artist residency was a performance in a starkly lit shop front on Main Street, Boise. A camera positioned on the pavement outside captures both Bufano’s performance and the reactions of passersby as Bufano executes graceful, almost insectlike motion on her stilts, prompting a concerned spectator to question if the dancer was “mentally well”.
The Morphology project and Bufano’s performance art is as much about expression through dance as it is an exposition of the form and possibilities of Bufano’s body. She draws lines and articulates structures and movements in the manner and language of contemporary dance, but her vocabulary is unique to her body and the technology she integrates into it. Above all, Bufano’s performance asks questions; pushing her audience to witness her story, her sexual identity and her disability, and then to surrender her, and themselves, to her art.