IMPRESSIONS: "PANORAMA" a Short Film by Gerard & Kelly, Dances with Colonialism at Paris' Bourse de Commerce
Playing Through December 20, Marian Goodman Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, Manhattan, (212) 977-7160
Ohio native, Brennan Gerard, and Pennsylvania-born, Ryan Kelly, have made their home in Paris and collaborate on installations, dance, and video. Their latest effort, a 22 -minute film set within the grand old Bourse de Commerce, features the drag performer Soa de Muse, as well as Paris Opera Ballet etoile Germain Louvet, and the just-recently- promoted sujet, Guillaume Diop.
Their heavy-handed press release explains the conceptual strategy- - to engage with the building’s sociocultural and political precedents-- which in short is all about the ceiling’s frieze celebrating France’s colonialism in glorious colors.
De Muse portrays “Memory” and agitatedly describes scenes of the mural in detail. Painted in 1889, when this shrine to capitalism was remodeled, the subject matter disturbs today’s viewer. Louvet and Diop as “Future” and “Allegory” join de Muse in a chant and then - quite magically - take ownership of the vast space by propelling their enlightened bodies through it. The intimacy between the two dancers of different colors celebrates a new world order.
In contrast to its press material, the dance evokes a better future with a welcoming lightness. The filmmakers even have the guts to stage an almost frivolous behind-the-scenes moment in which the dancers cheekily try on different outfits mirroring the mural while being served by the film’s crew.
Seeing the dancers let loose to music by the late composer Julius Eastman in this phenomenal empty round hall is a joy to behold. Diop gets rained on in the end. Is it a cleansing ritual or accumulated tears from centuries of oppression?
Young Diop’s exquisite beauty instills hope.