Let's Dance

22 October 2010 - 16 January 2011

Mac/ Val - Musée d'Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine, FR

“Let’s Dance” is of course a reference to the famous soul-oriented album by David Bowie in 1983. An invitation? A summons? Strangely enough, this title sounds incredibly similar to the slogan chanted by Act Up: I’ll go dancing anyway! Because here it’s definitely a form of resistance. This group exhibit gives a vision of what happens behind the scenes which prove to be slightly sad. Feeling the irrepressible need to commemorate together all the memorable times in your life is one of the exhibit’s themes connecting the fifty works of international artists gathered together for “Let’s Dance” from October 22 to January 16, 2011.

“Let’s Dance” addresses the clichés of celebration through its markers: birthdays, fireworks, candles, cake, block parties, rites of passages, and music … all things that bring people together but cannot prevent loneliness. The exhibition has been designed like a great still-life … where snippets and tales are interwoven throughout the exhibition. Narrative fragments are revealed around an installation, a sculpture, a video or a painting, all just like fleeting, disturbing and unfinished moments. But these scenes are universal enough to allow each and everybody to relate.

For Douglas Gordon, a birthday is synonymous with « tears », and so for his birthday he stamps a skull with stars, symbolizing the years gone by. This is ritual which was copied by many other exhibit artists in their own manner – each year Valérie Favre paints a new painting of the series Balls and Tunnels according to a precise protocol. Day after day, the German painter, Peter Dreher paints an empty glass on a white table. A challenge in this time that ticks away?

The Flemish artist, Hans Op de Beeck makes wistful videos. In All together now... the images are shown in a continuous loop which shows us a world spinning around like a crazy merry-go-round, a world where everything is endlessly repeated and where any attempt to communicate fails or seems in vain. Nevertheless these works are not depressing. There is always a balance between seriousness and irony, between sadness and humour.

However, far from the clichés which describe totally stereotype situations, “Let’s Dance” plays on the ambiguity of objects. So, with Claude Closky, a rasterized screen becomes fireworks. As to Christodoulos Panayiotou, he’s interested in fireworks used by the Naples mafia to communicate. In his work entitled Fraught Times: For Eleven Months of the Year it’s an Artwork and in December it’s Christmas Philippe Parreno questions temporality.

So is it a Christmas tree or a sculpture?

With works line Single Disco, by Bernhard Martin, there’s a nightclub as big as a wardrobe, just big enough for one person, or Love me Tender, a lonely bumper car by Pierre Ardouvin, these artists create frustrating images with a tinge of humour and poetry which short-circuits our emotional network. These works lead to tension, producing a strange effect, a paradoxical sensation opposite these works made from party elements symbolizing fun. The individual facing a group feels indeed very lonely. For the exhibition “Let’s Dance”, there is no more irony or empathy. The past is over and the future is unknown.

Without the notion of time, we can’t be nostalgic.