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Dancing Inside Out

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“There’s no business like Shoah business like no business I know”[1]

It is difficult for me to dare to speak, but even more difficult to remain silent. To make secrets public is to enter into a very dangerous relationship of confidence with the public. Taking dance to its extreme, ‘Dancing Inside Out’ has at its heart, a profound confrontation of opposites …the contradictions inherent between reality and imagination, intimate and public zones, pride and shame, genocide and survival, the macabre and the ordinary, to be proudly Jewish and simultaneously strongly anti-Zionist. ‘Dancing Inside Out’ is about the pain of being human and the joy of being alive … and, like our own lives, it is a complete/incomplete experiment.

Some notes on ‘Dancing Inside Out’ in Delhi:

Although the work is often positioned as ‘dance’, for me it is live visual art which deals with the outward manifestation of an inward state through the movement of a body which is so heavily costumed (or alarmingly naked) that the vocabulary of expression is re-defined. ‘Dancing Inside Out’, for instance, makes use of many of the conventions of theatre (make-up, lighting, music, etc) as well as projections which are produced in the moment by investigating the orifices of my body with the use of a dildo camera.  These beautiful and forceful images of the eyes, the inside of the mouth, the urethra, the anus … are set against a speech by Hitler denouncing the Jewish body; the resultant effect is political rather than sexual or erotic. 

Often with a work that takes place on a stage or in a museum, I also include an element of a live public intervention relating to the subject matter of the piece. ‘Dancing Inside Out’ ends with a five minute segment of me filmed in Lyon, France outside the Museum of Deportation and Resistance. I am wearing a giant Star of David on my head and an enormous magnifying glass over my penis.  When the magnifying glass reflects, we see nothing … when it refracts we see a giant enlargement of my circumcision … and it is for exactly that reason I constructed the costume. The actual physical space I am inhabiting is what was formerly the Gestapo headquarters, the place where people who were found in the streets and who had Judaic features but no identification papers were taken for interrogation before being deported.  The genitals of the men were immediately examined and a circumcision was the beginning of a quick route to death. I based my dance around a French Flag in a public courtyard and expressly to denounce the fact that France (the Vichy government) collaborated with the Nazis and often exceeded the demands of their ‘occupiers’.
For this reason, I am exaggerating my circumcision and making evident what is hidden … my work is often about disproportion and my tactics are often confrontational.  In this case, I was arrested by the French National Police and charged with sexual exhibitionism, although that charge was later dropped. The process of being arrested violently, of being humiliated and subjected to a medical examination against my will … and of generally being powerless in the face of an uncomprehending force of authority are an important element of my commitment to the project, as is the case in all of my work.  Nothing is accidental, taken for granted or carried out in half measures.
It is for this reason I would not be influenced to modify the work for an Indian audience (as I was encouraged to), not only because the subject matter and the manner in which the work is conducted refuse compromise, but also because I had faith that the audience in India was more mature than the structures that are set up to control it. I was proved right.  But the focus of the work is not to shock or to distance, but to explore with innovation and beauty, to take risks and to be original … charecteristics as much Indian as mine … and very much in keeping with the spirit of the KHOJ festival.

[1] Shoah is the politically correct term for Holocaust. This statement  is a parody of ‘There’s no business like show business like no business I know’

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