the dancing plague

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The Dancing Plague, 2012
temporized slide projection of 80 35mm negatives, text, audio recording in english and portuguese (10’00’’) or english and arabic ( 11’20’’)
variable duration and dimensions
portuguese and english voice: Gonçalo Gama Pinto, arabic voice: May Alaa ElDin
installation view: The Dancing Plague, Parkour, Lisboa
watch a video version of this work on vimeo
The Dancing Plague is an episode that took place in Strasbourg during the summer of 1518. In early July a woman named Frau Troffea went out to the streets and began to dance for no reason. Attracting the attention of passersby with eher clumsy and frenetic dance, she went on dancing with no signs of joy for hours until she collapsed from exhaustion. Soon to follow more people joined her in this absurd dance, the incident lasted all summer following several years of economical collapse. As much as 400 people danced together, most of them until they died. By the end of it the epidemic was kiliing 15 people per day.
There are more recorded episodes in history of people dancing for no reason until their death, but nothing to the scale of this episode and a full explanation for what took place is still uncertain. The most reasonable approach is to understand this occurrence as the release of an incredible amount of accumulated social stress related to the collapse of the social and economic structure of the city, affected by consecutive years of failed crops, hyper inflation and speculative markets.
This narrated slide projection brings together images of the European Parliament and of Strasbourg’s cathedral with a speculative text written by the artist on modern European economics.

 

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