Émilie Pitoiset is an artist and a choreographer. In her work, she analyses episodes of popular culture spanning from the medieval period to today, trying to understand the urgency that exists in times of social, economic and political crises to produce new forms of existence through music and dance. She also delves into the impact of music and club culture, when bodies meet and shapes start shifting, working across several media, from dance and music performances to photography, video and installations.
The instructions accelerate in time with the rhythm: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” “Rhythm Is A Dancer, Get Up (Before the Night Is Over).” The marathon has begun! Just as if it was a race against slumber, how would you ward off the spell?
MANIAC is an exhibition inspired by a theme that has fascinated Émilie Pitoiset for a long time: the violence engendered by dance marathons. Dance marathons have their origins in the U.S. during the Great Depression and are linked in Pitoiset’s work to the 1980s and the Cold War, a period which also witnessed the AIDS crisis and the ascent to power of conservative governments in the U.S. and the UK. These events fostered a brutalization of social and intimate relationships, paving the way for our contemporary neoliberal era.
Dancing until the point of exhaustion is also political, an act of resistance, a way of keeping faith or even fighting reality by staying awake as long as possible. A phenomenon that has now existed for centuries, going back to the first dance epidemics of the Middle Ages, dance has always been used as a form of protest, or, to allude to the famous Bee Gees song, for “Stayin’ Alive.”