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Cyprien Gaillard, Nightlife, 2015, 3-D DCI DCP film, color, sound, 14 minutes 28 seconds.

Cyprien Gaillard

Sprüth Magers | Berlin

Cyprien Gaillard, Nightlife, 2015, 3-D DCI DCP film, color, sound, 14 minutes 28 seconds.

A nine-second sample from the Jamaican-born rock-steady singer Alton Ellis runs through Cyprien Gaillard’s entrancing new 3-D film Nightlife (all works 2015), which anchored the artist’s recent show “When Nature Runs Riot.” Blending the refrain of Ellis’s 1969 classic “Black Man’s Word”—“I was born a loser”—with that of the song’s 1971 re-working as “Black Man’s Pride”—“I was born a winner”—Gaillard subtly interwove the resulting acoustic fragment throughout this nearly fifteen-minute work. The artist’s repeated use of this conflicting refrain—chopped, distorted, falling away, and coming back—filled his show with the looming question of agency itself. Just as Ellis’s voice, the lone human element in Nightlife, spurred viewers to ask who was speaking and what had determined his winning or losing fate, the film itself presents a sequence of images that

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