Blindspot Gallery is delighted to present “After Party: Collective Dance and Individual Gymnastics”, a group exhibition curated by Leo Li Chen, featuring works by 5 artists to explore the role of dance in the context of the rapid social changes of China.
“After Party: Collective Dance and Individual Gymnastics” originates from Roland Barthes’ visit to China in 1974. Throughout his month-long journey, Barthes analyses through post-structuralist paradigm the performances and political manifestation of the communist ideology; one of the objects of his critique were dances in schools, factories, town squares and public parks. The hysterical yet complete lack of affectation in the “collective dance” led Barthes to describe it as “infantilisation” of civilisation, which stands as dialectical opposite to the inconspicuous “individual gymnastics”.
Starting with the dichotomy between collective dance and individual gymnastics, this exhibition attempts to reveal the complex political tension between ideological control and the expression of individual will, through the interpretation of different terpsichorean forms, bodies and cultures. While the era of formal collectivism has declined, its remnants can still be traced in the daily life of the Chinese masses. In this process, the performativity and real-life meaning of dance are continuously redefined and reconfigured. Although dance in its myriad forms has become ready-made pop genres in mainstream narratives of pop culture, traumatic historical memories still persist in its inheritance, slowly overshadowed by the ossifying dynamics of the social reality. This exhibition focuses on the transformation and variation of collectivism in dance, the resistance and dysfunction of the individual will, as well as the afterlife of the carnivalesque revelries.
Hao Jingban’s most recent video work Off Takes originates from the discarded footages from her Beijing Ballroom project. Through the reorganisation and reactivation of these once deselected fragments, Hao meditates on the semiotic and affective relations between image and message. In The Pink Detachment, Jen Liu demonstrates the homogeneity between political propaganda and neoliberal economics by reinterpreting The Red Detachment of Women (1970), a ubiquitous model opera ballet from the era of the Cultural Revolution in China. In
Reanimation!Underwater Zombie frog ballet!, Lu Yang animates and synchronizes a dance of dead frogs by passing electricity through corpses of dead frogs from medical dissection. A similar fascination with corporeal and mind control also appears in the photographic work of Chen Wei, who has staged night clubs and dancing crowds in a certain state of psychedlica and void, visualising the frailty of the human body in the teleology of modernization. In the photographic installation Flirt, Hu Weiyi threads and stitches a luminous line across different human body parts and objects, undoing and reconstructing intimate relationships between the subjects by
This exhibition forms part I of Leo Li Chen’s multi-part research project “After Party”.