Clément Cogitore
Les Indes galantes, 2017
On loan to the exhibition Mondes perméables at La Halle des Bouchers, Vienne, France

Curated by: Bernard Collet

The group exhibition Mondes perméables deals with the theme of the permeability of cultures and shows how contemporary art can free itself from the determinisms of memory and the weight of cultural and social history.

Les Indes galantes is a contemporary staging of the Baroque opera ballet by the French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau from 1735. Rameau was inspired by the tribal Indian dances that were performed in Paris by Metchigaema chiefs in 1723 and included their rhythms and movements in his composition. The genre of ballet opera goes back to the composer André Campra, whose L’Europe galante, which debuted in 1697, brought love stories from France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey to the stage. Rameau juxtaposed this European emphasis with a Baroque view of forms of galant love in Peru, Persia, and the indigenous North America. His staging was exotic, with opulent garments, astounding the French audience of his time with fantasies of distant lands. These fantasies of ‘exotic otherness’ in Cogitore’s video work, developed from a performance at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, have disappeared.

The dancers that interpret the operatic ballet are young Parisians and dancers from Belgium and Germany. Bodies and dance articulate individual stories, whose narratives achieve a collective meaning. The movements are expressive and have a strong psychological power. The krump style of dance does not differentiate between inner, personal experience, individual condition, and outward expression, gestures, and body language. On the contrary, internal emotions come out in the form of freestyle body movements. ‘Stomps,’ ‘chest pops,’ ‘arm swings’ formulate stories that are called 'taunts.' The goal is not a composed choreography for the viewers, rather a state of movement, which allows the inner and the outer to become coherent, which makes positive as well as negative emotions visible, lets them come to the surface. This state, which allows the inner and the outer, the psyche, thoughts, and emotions to become one with gestures, movement, and body, is called ‘amped’ or ‘buck’ and makes nonviolent, physical expression of disappointment, frustration, pain, and aggression possible.

K.R.U.M.P. (Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise) refers to the Los Angeles Riots, an outbreak of violence on April 29, 1992 that lasted several days in reaction to the acquittal of the policemen who severely beat Rodney King, an African-American taxi driver, during an arrest. South Central Los Angeles was the epicenter of the unrest, which was a reaction to the racist police brutality, and that is where krumping arose as a nonviolent form of resistance from the confrontation with racism in its violent, systematic dimension. The dance spread across the US and to Europe and today is an international expression of resistance and a criticism of discrimination and racially motivated violence. In February 2017, violent protests arose, reaching into the center of Paris, caused by the severe mistreatment of a young black Parisian in the suburb Aulnay-sous-Bois during an arrest. Police violence against black citizens has become a global issue and finds its nonviolent resistance in the spread of krumping.

Les Indes galantes originates from the Kervahut—Collection Laurent Fiévet.