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Performance
French Drama in the Spotlight at Princeton Princeton New Jersey 08544 USA

Jimmy Robert: Descendances du nu (Chicago)

Part of Between Gestures

© Photo: Daris Jasper

Descendances du nu (Chicago), 2016–19
Wood panels, prints, fabric, headpiece and costume, performance

Jimmy Robert uses performance, photography, film, video, and drawing to explore important artworks from the twentieth century in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. Composed of several objects activated by sound and performance, Descendances du nu (Chicago) is named after Marcel Duchamp’s iconic painting Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), which marked a turning point in the history of art. The installation also cites artists Sturtevant, Sherrie Levine, and Louise Lawler, whose works replicate and/or borrow from other artists’ works as a way to explore authorship and originality; each of them at some point has quoted Duchamp’s famous painting. Against the backdrop of the Chicago Cultural Center’s stately north staircase, the installation is intermittently activated by a local performer who brings to the work their own personal reading, drawing from their individual experiences, body, gender, and color. Through gestures, the piece thus casts an unexpected human light on the historic building.

Courtesy the artist; Stigter Van Doesburg, Amsterdam; Tanya Leighton, Berlin; and Frac Grand Large, Hauts-de-France, Dunkirk
Soundscape conceived by Ain Bailey
While Descending... written by Élisabeth Lebovici
Performerd by Brittany Anderson, Khloe Janel, Caitlin Marz, Gina Hoch Stall, and Lily Jean Ryan-Lozon


About the Artist

Jimmy Robert’s practice encompasses performance, photography, film, video, and drawing, frequently collapsing distinctions between these mediums. Using photography as a starting point for his works on paper, Robert blurs the divisions between two and three dimensions, as well as between image and object. This interest in blurred boundaries integrates his performative work—which includes choreographed elements in the context of an exhibition or in relationship to architecture—with his larger practice. In previous works he has explored the politics of spectatorship by reworking seminal avant-garde performances in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. Robert’s work has been featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, in commissions by Performa 17 and the Glass House, in performances at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, at the Berlin and Dakar biennials, and in a Satellite presentation organized by the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Born 1975, Saint-Claude, Guadeloupe, France; lives and works in Berlin, Germany.


About Between Gestures

From October 24 to November 2, 2019, the Cultural Services of the Consulate of France in Chicago and the Goethe-Institut Chicago will come together to celebrate and explore contemporary dance and performance from Europe.

Created in dialogue with two European cultural institutions, the Centre national de la Danse in Pantin, France (as part of Caravane, a mobile CN D, and PACT Zollverein in Essen, Germany, Between Gestures invites you to a ten-day multifaceted program across the city composed of:

  • 8 performances by groundbreaking artists and choreographers based in Europe. Memory of the gesture and our artistic heritage are at core in all of these works.

  • 4 public conversations between European and American experts who, through different topics, will bring keys to understanding dance, its context and history from both sides of the Atlantic

  • 4 masterclasses for students and professional artists led by European guest choreographers

  • A series of screenings with dance films, portraits and documentaries from Europe

Our partners in Chicago, who will host Between Gestures, are the Dance Center of Columbia College, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Poetry Foundation, the Stony Island Arts Bank, the School of the Art Institute, the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Chicago International Film Festival.
Alongside this incredible range of partners, Between Gestures has been made possible thanks to the support of the German-French Cultural Fund that promotes Franco-German cooperation abroad by supporting cultural and artistic projects.
This program is also supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, the Goethe - Institut, FACE in Chicago, the Friends of Goethe Chicago, Chicago Dancemakers Forum and Northwestern University.
Conceived as a platform for exchange, transmission and discovery for artists, professionals and the public, Between Gestures aims to connect Chicago to the European dance and performance art scenes and to foster international artistic cooperation.

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