Day 21: Berlin / Vincent Dupont

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Circus and dance? Nope. A movie. Twice. One in a circus tent about that circus of a city we all know as Moscow. And another one by a choreographer who’s using film as a means to say things he is unable to as a dancer.

Was I just in a more philosophical mood? Or were my thoughts really stimulated by both movies? The fact is: both films presented at the KunstenFestivalDesArts made me think; about the relationship between documentary and art, reality and fiction, about ideas and the ways of turning them into a performance. But at the same time: both films failed to fulfill my expectations.

Berlin is an Antwerp-based collective. In 2003 the trio started work on the Holocene series. The starting point for each episode is always a city. Moscow is their latest, after having visited Jerusalem, Iqaluit (Canada) and Bonanza (Colorado). ‘Like with a play, we’re seeking to discover universal resonances at the heart of the small stories and people there.’

For Moscow Berlin has had a big top built. Once inside that red tent, you get a string quartet, a piano and six (moving) screens. All put together, that creates a nice atmosphere, but does it succeed in offering us more than the usual documentary? Not really. You get the usual beautiful city images, mixed with interviews. Those interviews deal with all the subjects one might expect. Corruption, wealth, the Russian soul, poverty and Putin. Well done, but I had expected to get more from this unusual approach.

The same can be said for Vincent Dupont‘s first film Plongée. I’m really intrigued by the questions the choreographer raises. By the things he’s investigating. His desire to explore new spaces for the body, for instance. He turns to film because that enables the creation of new and ‘unreal’ spaces, and the exploration of a question underlying his entire oeuvre: the question of ‘presence’. By using film he can question the perception of the body. He can undermine its concreteness and he can, by escaping the ‘black box’ of the theatre, immerse the spectator in an irrational world. To enhance that effect, he makes the spectators wear individual headphones, through which they can hear a soundtrack full of strange and manipulated sounds.

I’ve been really trying to stay with him, while watching Plongée. But in the end, I gave up. Too slow, too self-centered, too cryptic. He doesn’t succeed in translating the things he wants to investigate as a choreographer, to this other medium. At or least: he didn’t succeed in convincing me that he did.

(photo credit: Vincent Dupont)

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