Critics’ Picks

Manon de Boer, Dissonant, 2010, still from a color film in 16 mm, 10 minutes 23 seconds.

Brussels

Manon de Boer

Jan Mot
Petit Sablon / Kleine Zavel 10
February 12 - April 10

Following Manon de Boer’s examination of silence and memory in 2008’s Two Times 4'33“—a performance of John Cage’s 4'33” presented with and without recorded sound—the 16-mm film Dissonant, 2010, the centerpiece of this exhibition, is a similar investigation of music and memory. Depending on when one enters the screening room, one will see either dancer Cynthia Leomij improvising alone in the studio only to the sound of her heavy breathing, a black screen as de Boer changes the film in her camera every three minutes, or Leomij listening to an excerpt of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonatas for Solo Violin, with the camera fixed closely on her face to direct attention to the slight twitches of her head, as well as to her expression of intense concentration, seemingly an attempt to imprint the music in her mind.

Though Leomij’s precise and commanding movements are compelling to watch, her percussive breaths are de Boer’s focus. The disjunction between the three viewing experiences forces one to fill in the blanks; when the film’s images cut to black, the artist places both the audience and the performer in the same imaginary space, where viewers are made to continue Leomij’s dance with their memory, just as Leomij must re-create the music with hers. As the film loops without a title or credit sequence, one can never be quite sure where the cycle begins and ends, or when the real music is finished and the recollection of it starts.