Curated by Kathleen Goncharov
Artists: Jake Borndal, Sanford Biggers, caraballo-farman, Maureen Connor, Ben Coonley, Daily Dancer, Kan Xua, Kaoru Katayama, Mike Kelley, Rodney McMillian,Trine Lise Nedreaas, Christodoulos Panayiotou, Laura Parnes, Barbara Pollack, Ron Rocheleau’s ConcreteTV, Valeska Soares, Michael Smith, Jennifer Sullivan, William Wegman, Wild Record Collection, and Michael Zansky
Everybody Dance Now takes its title from the opening line of the 1990 C&C Music Factory song. This exhibition, curated by Kathleen Goncharov, showcases work by an international cast of contemporary artists as well as excerpts from popular culture venues such as public access television, You Tube, and Google Video. The show celebrates the universal human urge to move to the beat (although dogs, frogs, bears, ponies, ghosts, and alligators sometimes act as surrogates for people). The title of the exhibition is literal…everyone dances when all these characters move to the groove and show off their collective talent (or lack there of).
Although many of the works in the exhibition are amusing, they often have a dark humor and address such serious issues as gender and racial stereotypes, war, violence, media manipulation, globalization, and cultural conflict. Other videos deal with more personal matters that concern us all, such as aging, mortality, the dilemmas of adolescence, and the sexual insecurities that follow us through life.
Dog Duet, by video pioneer William Wegman, features the artist’s famous weimaraners who perform in perfect synch. Trine Lise Nedreaas’ poetic work is a life size projection that depicts an 87 year-old man dancing the tango with an invisible partner in an abandoned ballroom. Valeska Soares’ subject is similar but her dancers perform with imaginary partners on a mirrored floor in a Brazilian nightclub designed by Oscar Niemeyer.
Performance artist Michael Smith’s character “Mike” is a parody of the “everyman” who craves social acceptance but like most of us ultimately ends up a loser. Smith contributes excerpts of his dancing alter ego from videos he’s made over the past twenty-five years. Another everyman, an unabashed nerd, the Daily Dancer, who posts on the Internet, trips over his vacuum cleaner while dancing to Aretha Franklin’s Respect. TV personality Stephen Colbert dances to the hymn King of Glory in an Internet clip and another found video teaches black people how to “dance like a white guy.”
Mike Kelley’s contributes two short videos from his Day is Done project in which adults reenact the “extracurricular” activities depicted in photographs from old high school yearbooks. Laura Parnes and Jennifer Sullivan also look at adolescents, in particular participants in amateur talent shows. Rodney McMillian dances to a Prince song in a disturbing blue mask and Sanford Biggers makes the connection between Hip Hop and Kung Fu. Maureen Connor’s video installation recalls 1950s insecurities and gender stereotypes in a children’s dance class. Barbara Pollack collaborates with her 18 year old son on a two-channel video where he and his friends dance in a simulated mosh pit and perform a tableaux of an infamous photograph from Abu Ghraib. Michael Zansky also deals with failed US policies and asks whether we are dancing our way back into the primordial slime led by Godzilla, who bears a striking resemblance to Rona ld Reagan.
Kaoru Katayama, a Japanese artist living in Spain explores cultural confusion in a video of traditional dancers from Salamanca who try to use their native steps while dancing to techno music. Christodoulos Panayiotou’s video is documentation of Slow Dance Marathon, a performance in which total strangers slow dance over a twenty-four hour period to sentimental pop love songs. Kan Xua has a hilarious and surprising take on Chinese revolutionary opera and caraballo-farman’s floor projection is a ballet of vibrators. Ben Coonley’s mechanical ponies talk and do The Pony to a Chubby Checker song as well as teach themselves the Texas two-step.
Continuing with the animal theme, the collaborators responsible for Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s Wild Record Collection feature their toy polar bear Snuffles and his stuffed animal friends who dance to cuts from their collection of thousands of LPs. Another MNN favorite, Ron Rocheleau’s Concrete TV, features brilliantly edited clips of strip club dancers, car crashes and brief scenes from popular movies. Jake Borndal creates a special TV and Internet lounge for viewing these programs and found footage.
Everybody Dance Now presents work that ranges from the ridiculous to the sublime; some are profound and others are downright silly, but they all reflect the human condition through the urge to dance.
Dance Party: Sept. 30, 8 PM – midnight