Flying Stallions Circus

2010





Video installation for three projectors.
Mirror ball, spotlights with changing colors.
Three video loops, 45’ combined






This installation brings together the five first videos from the They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? series: On The Brink, Curtain!, Keep Dancin’, Sunday Night and Wool Stockings. By projecting them on three walls of an exhibition space in an alternating sequence, two by two, or even three by, the piece launches a series of dialogues that play out between them over a 45 minutes cycle.
A more complex version of the installation plays on the presence of a fourth wall in an adjoining space.

At first, the work seems to bring down the barriers that isolate the dancers from one another. By situating them side by side or face to face in the projection room, the installation often makes a dancer from this video or that perform to the rhythm of another dancer’s music. No video’s choreography has been modified in order to achieve this effect – it was arrived at, rather, by synchronizing the pieces with one another over the cycle’s duration and projecting the images on each wall of the exhibition space. The extent of changes made to the Sunday Night and Keep Dancin’ loops is the insertion of discontinuities, and the longest video, On the Brink, has been divided into smaller excerpts.

Despite the apparent cheer issuing from the network of dancers, their bodies nonetheless refuse to make contact. While their gazes may seem to be fixed on each other from opposite walls and their movements may seem to respond to one another, the immutable character of the choreographies betrays the artificial character of their encounter, inciting a sense of solitude and seclusion. Graver yet, the intrusion of the other ends up provoking a kind of overshadowing that gestures toward a certain rivalry between the figures and a necessity to prevail over the other in order to retain one’s place on the dance floor. Several maneuvers have been contrived to resist this dynamic, however, such as the migration of a dancer from one of the room’s walls to another.

Considered as a kind of dance contest or choreographed performance, the installation points to the necessity of diverting the spectator’s attention. Prompted to look from one part of the exhibition to another, the visitor finds himself in a position of having to constantly make a choice whether to follow a video from beginning to end or to divide his attention between several videos. The question is thus raised concerning the necessity that an artwork attract attention to ensure its existence – the necessity that it play with the mechanisms of seduction in order to retain the viewer’s gaze.

This installation is presented in such a way as to leave room for viewers to occupy several different positions in relation to the images. In order to avoid obstructing the projections and to better observe the interactions between the videos, visitors are led to progressively gather together in a relatively confined area of the projection room. While this assembly establishes the visitor as judge and censor, placing him/her as the center of interest for the dancers, it also brings a positive and critical dimension in regard to this situation. In a society beset by forms of rivalry and isolation, it underlines the necessity of coming together as well as the refuge of solidarity.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet