Rond de jambe (2015-2016)

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Video installation and live-performance

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Exhibition view, L'Art de la Revolte, Centre Pompidou Paris, 2016.

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Rond de Jambe is a research project that takes the history of the Stopera building in Amsterdam as a starting point. Built between 1979 and 1986, the building that serves as a home for the National Opera and Ballet as well as the City Hall was created with strong opposition from the neighbours and left-wing movements in Amsterdam.

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Photo by Hans Bouton (source: Internet)

They claimed, among other things, that the space should be used for social purposes and houses, in opposition to that, the Stopera building would serve to an elite, and had been planned without any historical and social awareness or perspective, nor dealing with the traumatic history of the area (the old Jewish area) which was marked by the WWII.

The conflict between the city government which supported the Stopera building and the neighbours led to years of confrontations, protests and demonstrations.

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The work Rond de Jambe takes this history as starting point and juxtaposes the 'political body' and the 'dancing body', by using archival images from these demonstrations and protests, and working together with dancers, translating the movements into dance.

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Live Performance:
Choreography and development in collaboration with Marjolein Vogels.
Dancers during live-performance: Ilmar Gerrits, Pauline Senn and Marjolein Vogels.

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Installationview @ Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam Photo: Sander van Wettum

Rond de Jambe. Notes to join movement

Life itself was one of the causes deeply embraced by the twentieth century. Once the fall of humanist paradigms from previous centuries had been confirmed, together with the triumph of bio-politics, the twentieth century dedicated itself to inventing radically new ways of life: utopian communities, avant-garde groups, revolutionary movements.

One of the most fundamental questions that surfaced from the echo of this collapse was posed by Walter Benjamin: how can art imagine that which overcomes from nothing? Or we could otherwise formulate: how may art generate the necessary movement that takes quiet and mute bodies out of their repose? Has the body something to say in this respect?

Well, the human body is a physical object with sensitive properties. One supposes that the body has a determined extension and, moreover, its own strength. The human body is, specifically, the organic material that constitutes a human being.

What potential the body has, nobody knows. Or maybe yes? Maybe the body itself knows?

If we consider the body from the opposite perspective of bio-politics, as a body- agent or a body-subject, then we might stop thinking the body as a political tool. If the body works as a tool, and a tool is something used for something, then we are forced to think: for what is the body used? And then, through the art of circular thoughts, we find ourselves once again with a body-object. The body is the difference, and the difference is what allows change to come in. Change is also movement, although we are used to think that only movement generates change.

And now one body, many moving bodies. Have you already thought about what a Rond de Jambe is?

Which breakdowns should the twenty first century contemplate? Maybe that of the body? But if the body is capable of recovering the human capacity for experience, merging individual memory with collective memory, then let us put it into movement.

*Camila Zito Lema (ARG/1988) is a philosopher based in Buenos Aires.