Artists Pauline Boudry, Renate Lorenz
Date 10.11.2023 - 25.02.2024
Venue Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo
All images Courtesy by the artists
To be in the light, to be visible, is a political prerequisite for claiming rights. At the same time, some bodies have been brought into the spotlight with the intention of scrutiny and surveillance. The right to be opaque, to control one’s own degrees of visibility, lies at the core of the exhibition Walk Silently in the Dark Until Your Feet Become Ears by the Swiss-German artist duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz. For the exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus, the artists have collaborated with a group of choreographers and performers to create the two-channel film installation Les Gayrillères (2022). The film’s choreography shows a series of steps for a gay guerrilla, building on the unpredictable power of bodies moving in concert, experimenting with forms of togetherness. The camera films a continuous dance in a 360° movement in an interchange between darkness and light, visibility and opacity. All the stage lights are fixed on the dancer’s costumes, and through their movements they shed light on others and on themselves, producing an interplay of concealment and exposure.
The work adopts its title from Monique Wittig’s seminal, feminist novel Les Guérillères in which a tribe of warrior women wage an attack on patriarchal society. In Boudry and Lorenz’ work, the Gayrillères’ pleasures are indivisible from the sadness of political backlash: the endless violence in public spaces, and the withdrawal of rights by authoritative governments.
The exhibition also includes a series of sculptures that choreograph the relation between on-screen and off-screen, sounding and listening, between the delayed character of the filmed performance and the liveness of visitors moving through the exhibition space. All the objects are tied to the performative, which is central to the artists’ work, and become a kind of hybrids between sculpture, prop, performer and everyday object. Hair, chains and microphones seem to have directly stepped down from the screen, having formerly existed in the diegetic universe as a wig, a prop, or part of a costume. Now they follow their own score and take refuge in their new appearance as abstracted artworks, presented in the white cube. Footprints and traces of movements are evident on the fragments of dance floors that appear to defy gravity. The objects refer to both rebellion and control, power and powerlessness, pleasure and glamour.
By focusing on the fragile moment of entering a stage and claiming space – a moment of visibility as well as vulnerability – the exhibition engages questions of pleasure, power and political change.