“You have to follow all my instructions.” And you do. You very reasonably do. You smile. You scream. You dance. You express your own self. As you are requested to. The instructor (Emily Chaveau) shows you how. She smiles. It crosses your mind that primates smile as a show of potential force. You do feel somehow threatened. Wait, no. You feel happiness, she says. She talks of finding an inner calm while flashes of images are projected in the background. Your pulse catches up with the electric speed. As she comes closer, and the expressive play of light casts a shadow on her face, you submit more and more to her orders. Her hands touches you, you feel her breath. Breathe. Look at me in the eyes. Her gaze addresses you directly. But you are not alone. Off-screen a whole bunch of you started dancing bizarrely, expressing their own selves. You are not protected by the screen, it has become transparent, and you see your awkward mirror-image in it. The experience is carefully monitored. You present your clumsy little ego for the benefit of the cause. The artist is recording it.
As Falsnaes puts it, performances are about “creating a significant experience”. In this work, Falsnaes shows us the underlying mechanisms of the enjoyment mottos we constantly submit to. Living in the now. Be the person you want to be. Chaveau lends her voice to the watchwords of a culture of well-being. It feels desperate, yet we feign, we bare our teeth and clap our hands. Her authoritarian gaze guides us in the chase for an elusive present, where we can grasp the now and our own selves with it.
Yes, she said – “your own”. – Jade de Cock de Rameyen
In his performances, Christian Falsnaes (b. 1980 in Copenhagen, Denmark), who lives and works in Berlin, tests collective obedience by giving instructions to his audience. Thereby, Falsnaes’ performances form analytical and social experiments that demonstrate how easily an initially hesitant audience can, through instructions and group dynamics, be emotionally and critically affected.
Next to his performance works, his practice spans across multiple media and approaches such as painting, musical composure and filming. In this process, Falsnaes generates a variety of material, from photos, collages and collectively made drawings to songs, scripts and videos.
Christian Falsnaes’ web site: www.falsnaes.com