reviews

Cyprien Gaillard, Nightlife, 2015, 3-D HD video, color, sound, 14 minutes 56 seconds.

Cyprien Gaillard

Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

Cyprien Gaillard, Nightlife, 2015, 3-D HD video, color, sound, 14 minutes 56 seconds.

“I was born a lo-ser.” Whether indicative of a profound lack of self-esteem or of an unflinching fatalism, this wrenching declaration loops throughout the first three acts of Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D film Nightlife, which made its American debut at Gladstone Gallery this spring. (It was first released in Europe in 2015.) Sampled from Alton Ellis’s 1969 rocksteady single “Blackman’s Word,” which itself sampled the line from Derrick Harriott’s 1967 track “The Loser,” the keening vocal is immersed in a fuzzy dub pulse that makes for a suitably hypnotic accompaniment to the film’s oneiric visuals. In this context, the words are as much a texture as they are the expression of an idea (an idea that becomes complicated in Ellis’s later version of the track, in which “loser” becomes “winner”).

Nightlife is a nocturnal journey through three cities—Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Berlin,

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