Marie Chouinards sexually billed debut curriculum attends dancers locked up like zoo animals then unleashed, while Vladimir Putin is razzed with whips and made to dance with a Nubian Queen
A naked woman pierces her body frequently against a wall, her idiom conceal by the dark drop of whisker clothing her face. A pale, serious teenager dances a solitary course through a audience of observers, his limbs float, warping and buckling to low-level electronic music. A middle-aged boy in a knitted cap and lifeguards coat cleans the floor, talking all the while about the counsel to purge his life.
There is nothing new about visual prowes that blurs into performance, or dance that verges on installing, but at Venice this year the question of categories feels interestingly loaded. Daina Ashbees Unrelated and Benot Lachambres Lifeguard are the first and third occasions described above, hitherto while they feature in the programme that has been put together by the dance biennales brand-new aesthetic director, Marie Chouinard, neither act espouses traditional modes of choreography. The dreamy street-dance solo, meanwhile, comes from Anne Imhofs Faust, a five-hour contest that is outlining “the worlds largest” audience at the artwork biennale and whose conversation is heavily predicated on dance.
The agency of the body is a key theme of Faust, often because its cast are forced into situations of unsettling passivity. Imhof has altered the interior of the German pavilion into glass chambers within which individuals or small groups of performers are detained. As we tread past or even above them, we can observe these young men and women engaged in their own variously stolid, unfriendly or sex acts, as if the latter are laboratory samples or animals in a zoo.
Those glass walls and ceilings start to feel like an absolute divide, turning us into voyeurs and the musicians into objects even when theyre exhibiting signeds of peril behaviour. It comes as a shocking reversal of ability when the musicians are sporadically let out of their cells and allowed to dance among us, taking abrupt authority of the opening and saying their primacy over our awkward, self-conscious bodies.
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