Dancing Couples (after: Couples at square dance, McIntosh County, Oklahoma, 1939 or 1940)

2008, single channel video projection, colour, silent, 40 min loop

The significance of this work pivots around the presence of “reflected light”. The raw flashlight, that made the photograph possible more than 60 years ago, and the projector light through which this picture is seen today, bear an uncanny resemblance. Direct inspiration for Dancing Couples comes from the original photograph: the sweaty, frontal gazes of boys dancing with girls whose faces remain hidden from camera. Something of the troubled times ahead can be felt in this picture. The extremely slow 3-D movement from left to right and back can be explained by the desire to reveal the women’s faces, and in so doing, breaking down the inherent macho-ism in the male positions. However, the only thing that changes is the focus of the boys’ gazes, which look alternately straight into, or next to, the camera lens.

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David Claerbout ©2018