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“DANCING PLAGUE” at GAMeC - Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo

11.3 – 29.5.2022

From March 11 to May 29, 2022, the Spazio Zero of the GAMeC - Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo welcomes Dancing Plague, the winning project of the 11th edition of the Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi per l’Arte – EnterPrizecurated by Panos Giannikopoulos featuring works by Benni Bosetto (IT), Ufuoma Essi (UK), Klaus Jürgen Schmidt (SA), Lito Kattou (CY), Petros Moris (GR), Eva Papamargariti (GR/UK), Konstantinos Papanikolaou (GR), Mathilde Rosier (FR/DE), Michael Scerbo (IT/UK) and Elisa Zuppini (IT/NL).

Dancing Plague is the term used to describe a social phenomenon that emerged in Europe between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, when in a sort of collective hysteria, groups of people danced non-stop for weeks at a time, with participants collapsing and dying from exhaustion and injury. The exhibition revisits this episode of cultural contagion and virality, examining its social and gender context, its reappearance over the centuries, and its similarity to events that have occurred elsewhere. Starting from the slippery ground of history, Dancing Plague explores imaginary links to recent cultural expressions of resistance through the movement of bodies and brings together witches, more-than-human creatures, and nightclub-goers in a circular dance.

The exhibitionengages with queer theory and the death drive, dance as a means of creating identity and cultural resistance for less privileged bodies, dance as an exploration and invention of the possibilities of our bodies, and as an interlinguistic practice breaking social boundaries. It thinks about choreopolitics in relation to biopolitics and necropolitics. The exhibition space is conceived as a ground for entanglement, questioning the roles of participant and observer and rethinking the visual, the aural, and the haptic.

Eva Papamargariti’s audiovisual work explores the notions of excess, balance and bodily exhaustion. The protagonist of the video, an uncanny creature that stands between mythology and science fiction, is struggling to balance through a fragmented, fervent choreography in order to achieve a sort of ecstasy and catharsis.

Benni Bosetto’s sculptures simulate a superorganism merged with the environment, free from the container and the form. Their features recall primordial and elementary forms where each creature is in kinship with the others.

In Mathilde Rosier’s works, forms are flowing between plant, human and animal. They are hybrid and in motion with others. All seem to be interdependent and interconnected challenging any kind of life hierarchy. Movement is integral in the construction of this political imaginary, a dance across surfaces, escaping narrow demarcations.  

Ufuoma Essi explores the body as a site of remembrance and resistance, a mediator between life and transgenerational histories, between past, present, and future. Her work is inspired by the Black performance histories throughout the Black Atlantic and their direct potential to transform societal conditions and constructions around racial identities.

In Lito Kattou’s installation, three bodies of Mantises -dancers or warriors- are situated in dialogue with a sunrise and a sunset, part of a series of paintings where the artist examines the circularity of time and its flow through the relationship of human and other-than-human agents with the environment and the astral phenomena of the Sun.

Petros Moris’s light sculptures reflect on the uncanniness of the interior body-form, the silent perpetual dance of the circulatory systems of life support, the fragility and vitality of the Other that is to be found in the inner-self. They plead for the reclaiming of the eery powers and vigorous symbolisms of “anatomy” from its unjust institutional past of marginalization and exploitation of sexualized, racialized, and convict bodies.

Konstantinos Papanikolaou focuses on the performative body, on subjectivity, historical recollection and personal memory.He muses over archival documents, roams with them, plays with their interpretation and verbally reconstructs their steps in the present context. The performance will be presented on May 29th.

In Klaus Jürgen Schmidt’s Vision Spells sets of wandering eyes are arranged as a rhythmic spiralling vortex, undulating in cycles around and away from or toward a point. They are captured in the final throws of a 24-hour Queer dance party. An archive of brief encounters, moves and stares is turned into a garment.

Michael Scerbo and Elisa Zuppini present a series of hybrid events, titled Intoxication, acidity, compression during the exhibition duration. As a form of a public program to the exhibition and para-ritual, they weave together different formats (sensorial lecture-performance, workshop, performative act), offering a multi-sensorial journey into different worlds and temporalities. During the opening, performative fragments are displayed as a prelude to the performance culminating at the end of May.

The Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi per l’Arte – EnterPrize is the major international acknowledgment dedicated to curators under 30, conceived by the GAMeC in 2003 with the support of the Gruppo Bonaldi, and which first emerged from the desire to commemorate Lorenzo Bonaldi’s passion for art and collecting.