Jérôme Bel offers a different approach to dance. One in which dancers become speaking subjects and the co-authors of his works. In which professional dancers and amateurs from different cultural and social contexts have access, together, to the stage. Where the realm of the "real" and of its excluded subjects becomes the content and form of his choreographic pieces.
Through a research path that aims to investigate the character and prospects of the performative act, the Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art in Prato has organized the first solo exhibition in a museum by the French choreographer Jérôme Bel, curated by Antonia Alampi.
It is time rather than space that characterizes this project. Hence the title 76’38’’ + ∞ which specifically alludes to the duration, to the sum of the lengths of the videos on view: an encouragement to observe the works on display from the beginning to the end, a classical norm in theatres but unusual behaviour in a museum. Here ∞ refers to the countless possibilities of a new dance, an on-going one created specifically for the Pecci Centre: a work without an end designed to be experienced from a few seconds to eternity.
The exhibition 76’38’’ + ∞ is presented through what Jérôme Bel himself refers to as a "dramaturgy of dis-alienation," articulated around five key works created over the past twenty years. Diaporama (1994-2017) is a slide show presenting the evolving archive of Jérôme Bel, a collection of images of theatres of various genres and illustrating the development, metamorphosis and the multiple forms taken on by theatrical spaces around the world. The relationship between the capitalist culture and the individual, a reflection on the role of the sign (the brand) and its determining influence on our daily actions is addressed by Shirtology (1997/2015). A work that highlights the alienation caused by the hierarchy and the working conditions of the context of dance is Vèronique Doisneau (2004), the story of the life of a ballet dancer at the Paris Opera, interpreted by herself. In contrast, in Compagnia Compagnia (2015) an emancipated dance company, made up of non-professionals of all ages from the social fabric of the province of Prato and Florence, demolishes hierarchies and theatrical conventions. Danzare come se nessuno stesse guardando (2017) is a work specifically conceived for the exhibition at the Pecci Centre: a continuous solo searching for a concept of dance deprived of gravity, desire, culture and expectations, a dance that swallows its viewers while also existing without them, a dance that is empowered, rather than inspired, by the museum, its infrastructure and protocols.
From a formal point of view, 76’38’’+ ∞ has a performative component and a filmic one, with live performances taking place every Sunday and others throughout the entire duration of the exhibition.
On the occasion of the exhibition and for the first time in Italy, Jérôme Bel's Gala will be presented at the Fabbrica Europa (10 - 11 May at 21.00, Stazione Leopolda in Florence). The result of a coproduction between the Luigi Pecci Centre for Contemporary Art and the Festival Fabbrica Europa, the performance brings together both dancers and non-professionals in a work which is a reflection on the concept of dance.
Cover image: Jérôme Bel, Gala, Photographer Josefina Tommasi, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (Argentina, August 2015).
Jérôme Bel (b.1964) lives in Paris and works worldwide. He studied at the Centre National de Danse Contemporaine of Angers (France) in 1984-1985.
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