Article by Samuel Staples // May 11, 2018
Expression, communication and the body are themes that have come to define the practice of Danish-born multidisciplinary artist Christian Falsnaes. In his new exhibition ‘Self’, presented as part of Gallery Weekend Berlin at PSM, Falsnaes further explores the relationship between people and their surroundings.
Though much of Falsnaes’ work is rooted within the idea of audience participation and the reaction of this audience, these performances typically occur within the gallery setting.
‘Self’ takes Falsnaes’ practice outside the context of the gallery and onto the streets, to an unsuspecting (and oftentimes apathetic) audience. The exhibition, comprised of two large-scale video installations, stands apart from much of Falsnaes’ work, presented as a staged and choreographed performance utilizing hired performers.
‘Self’ follows a group that moves together through the residential streets of Berlin. Performers dance, march and crawl across the street, moving in synchronization as one collective body. Though highly choreographed and stylized, to casual onlookers it is unclear what is transpiring. Passersby react mostly apathetically to the mob like body, occasionally stopping to stare though mostly not at all.
There is a lyrical quality to the movements and expressions of the group, each individual attuned to the others’ body language. With no clear leader or destination, it isn’t obvious what brought these individuals together, where they came from or where they are going.
Here, Falsnaes asks us to examine the influence of our own actions and the influence of the singular and collective body on our surroundings, as we watch these individuals take over their environments. In taking these performances outside of the gallery and onto the streets, there is an element of experimentation that leaves room for organic reactions.
PSM gallery is dim, only illuminated by the projections of the two films. The films are presented in separate rooms so that only one can be viewed at any given time, though the audio of the two works carries between the two rooms.
In the second film, a single individual moves through the streets of Berlin, carrying out their own embodied expression. This individual runs through the city, their movements, often sporadic, read as a call to arms of sorts, but for what? In this film, Falsnaes examines the influence of the individual body on the external world, and the influence of our individual actions within the public sphere.
‘SELF’ asks us to question our own actions within public spaces. Are our actions individual or are we, too, following the collective body? What impact do these actions have on the community around us?
This article is part of our monthly topic of ‘Community’. To read more from this topic, click here.