Marie Chouinards sexually billed entry programme learns dancers locked up like zoo swine then unleashed, while Vladimir Putin is razzed with beats and made to dance with a Nubian Queen
A naked female punches her body repeatedly against a wall, her expression hide by the dark sink of whisker encompassing her face. A sallow, serious boy dances a solitary itinerary through a army of spectators, his limbs drift, warping and fastening to low-level electronic music. A middle-aged mortal in a knitted cap and lifeguards jacket sweeps the floor, talking all the while about the exhort to purify his life.
There is nothing new about visual artwork that blurs into performance, or dance that verges on installation, but at Venice this year issues of categories feels interestingly loaded. Daina Ashbees Unrelated and Benot Lachambres Lifeguard are the first and third occasions described above, yet while they feature in the program that has been put together by the dance biennales new artistic head, Marie Chouinard, neither piece embraces traditional modes of choreography. The languorous street-dance solo, meanwhile, comes from Anne Imhofs Faust, a five-hour happening that is outlining the largest gang at the art biennale and whose language is heavily predicated on dance.
The agency of the body is a key topic 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 private individuals or small groups of musicians are limited. As we walk past or even above them, we can observe these young men and women engaged in their own variously stolid, unfriendly or sexual acts, as if the latter are laboratory specimen or swine in a zoo.
Those glass walls and ceilings start to feel like an absolute subdivide, turning us into voyeurs and the performers into objects even when theyre exhibiting clues of peril behaviour. It comes as a offending change of influence when the performers are sporadically let out of their cells and allowed to dance among us, taking sudden authority of the space and asserting their supremacy over our tricky, self-conscious bodies.
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