“I will dance better tomorrow.” This comment, heard* at the exit of Dancing with myself, is possibly the most beautiful that could be made about this exhibition. And true enough, after spending several hours at the Punta della Dogana, rarely have we felt such liberation of a body that can weigh us down and hold us back. Relaxed, we rarely feel such a need to set our bodies in motion. We will dance better for sure… And this isn’t the only effect provoked by the new show from the Pinault Collection, on until December 16th 2018.
Conceived in collaboration with the Museum Folkwang in Essen (who presented a first version in 2016), the exhibition, which brings together 140 works from the 1970s to today, could easily cause misunderstanding. By choosing to look at how artists have used their bodies as a tool and raw material – how they have danced with own bodies to create - Dancing with myself could be perceived as a sort of intellectual masturbation by navel gazing artists. But if the artists' body is present everywhere, it’s because it’s a means of talking about the world. Cindy Sherman, who has two rooms (one devoted to photos done in 2016, and the other to her masterpieces of the 1970s), puts it simply: “I use my body like a mannequin. My photos are not autobiographical.” For decades the American artist has photographed herself in staged settings where she embodies different clichés of femininity. These images, which are clearly constructed, reveal another construction, a social one: that of the codes of a femininity imposed by the male gaze and the situations to which women “must” consent.
The body is a political tool. It reveals clichés through its playing and its irony and its destroying of diktats.