When we say people “dance to somebody's tune”, whose tune is it actually? Do we submissively follow the herd led by the establishment, or do we march with the unrestrained crowd of its opponents?
Juliana Irene Smith (USA/CH) & Claudia Berg (CH)
a.k.a. JC Mountain Schmied
Curator: Omar Mirza
Opening: Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 6 pm
The exhibition runs till September 8, 2013
Venue: Youth Gallery – Nitra Gallery,
Župné námestie 3, 949 01 Nitra, Slovakia
When we say people “dance to somebody’s tune”, whose tune is it actually? Do we submissively follow the herd led by the establishment, or do we march with the unrestrained crowd of its opponents? Are we truly able to move and make conscious decisions based on our own free will, our opinions and beliefs?
The exhibition project Let’s Dance by artistic duo JC Mountain Schmied (Juliana Irene Smith – an American living in Switzerland and Swiss born Claudia Berg) looks critically at Movements, both physically and politically. The artists try to see what motivates people to move, to act, to organize themselves in a collective fight for or against something.
We see bigger or smaller movements in the streets almost every day, but freedom of assembly is not always respected. Recently, we have witnessed massive demonstrations and strikes all around the world, from the Arab Spring and Occupy movement to the current unrests in Istanbul. Also in Slovakia in early 2012 there were large protests called Gorilla, which were targeted against vast and long-lasting political corruption, but have been rumored to have been triggered by the agenda of some political parties because of the premature elections. One of the exhibited works depicts the artists who, armed only with bananas, show their sympathy to the Slovak movement.
Living in Switzerland, a place as safe as a cocoon, the artists feel people there are too comfortable with life; they forgot how to move and act and are often indifferent to the outside world. Is the Swiss neutrality actually apathy? And what is neutrality exactly?
Two key works of the show react to these questions. The interactive video installation Let’s Get Political shows the artists dancing as various protester clichés to the Olivia Newton John song Let’s Get Physical, where they replace the word “physical” with the word “political”. Signs and costumes in the installation invite visitors to join in to dance along and “get political”. The second installation is made of a tower of TVs showing videos of the artists and their friends dancing to the Stereo Total song Exakt Neutral with “something Swiss” in the background. The top news headlines from the day the video was made scroll by at the bottom of the video.
The exhibition furthermore presents drawings, animation, sound installation and a Barack Obama puppet whose strings can be pulled by the visitors, making it dance.
The artists use humor, self-irony, persiflage, intentional awkwardness and open interactivity. They hope that with this kind of approach to serious political and social issues they can reach a broader public and maybe even overcome its passivity. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog (+ DVD) that will document the works and give a peek behind the scenes of the project’s preparation.
Juliana Irene Smith & Claudia Berg (a.k.a. JC Mountain Schmied) began collaborating in 2007. They were both working on individual projects in the editing rooms at the University of Applied Arts and Sciences Lucerne and gave each other feedback. This grew to a dialogue and mutual respect for the individual practice. In the summer of 2007, they did their first action, A Live Art Auction, at the Erfrischungsraum in Lucerne. Since then they have done smaller actions and events, including the Banana Dance at the Women’s House, A Sex Change performance at the Rote Fabrik and have continued to mentor each other on their individual practice.