Danse, danse, danse tant que tu peux

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14/05 > 10:00 - 18:00

Brussels city centre in the spring. At a time when most people are walking quickly along congested pavements, looking down, one couple is challenging everyday linearity. An anachronistic moment of smiling happiness and unusual breathing in the stifling humdrum routine. Behind a shop window, during office hours, Lise Duclaux is putting forward an image to us of life far removed from any concern with making money. Far removed from the frantic running around involved in a productive society.


Lise Duclaux


Gregory Grosjean, Aleksandra Janeva, Yuri Korec, Chloé Dujardin, Gustavo Miranda


on location asbl (Bruxelles/Brussel)


KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, Echevinat de la culture de la ville de Bruxelles - Schepenambt voor Cultuur van de Stad Brussel

Supported by:

Communauté francaise Wallonie-Bruxelles

Thanks to:

Michèle Anne de Mey, Frédéric Jadoul, Nicolas Gasnier


Comptoir du nylon, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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Danse danse danse tant que tu peux – sinon tu étouffes

Dance dance dance as much as you can – otherwise you suffocate

Lise Duclaux creates the perfect shop-window of a popular shopping street in springtime. In the middle of the bakeries, butcher’s shops, fish shops and Chinese supermarkets on Katelijnestraat, she presents a shop-window that reflects the essence of life: a dancing couple. From Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., two people dance together non-stop. They play with each other’s imagination, they challenge each other, seduce, attract, reject. And they laugh. For the shared happiness of love.

Is Lise Duclaux exhibiting or offering what people hope they will find in the shops? Is this an installation or a dance performance? Is she a choreographer or a plastic artist? Is this about men and women, or none, or both?

Lise Duclaux likes working with popular forms, like the photo novel or the poster. She meticulously submits them to methods of deconstruction and decontextualisation. That way, she creates very familiar and at the same time lastingly alienating worlds. She reduces life to its first grade of interpretation: what there is, the things you manage with. Considering the complexity of the world in itself, considering the information we receive (which we cannot ignore, even though we often disagree with it), Lise has the impression that we sometimes forget to live life on a basic level.

The point of departure is an empty shop window in an ordinary, busy shopping street. Lise does not ask herself who runs that space, or what its political or social purposes are. She departs from the original definition of space and uses it just as it is, with its corresponding laws and stipulations – in this case the rhythm of shopping. Through decontextualisation, she adds a new image to our day-to-day world. Dancing is not something you expect here, in this place and at this time. It is a challenge for all the vacuum cleaners, washing machines, couches and dummies that once adorned the shop-window. With the dancers, Lise creates an image of vitality, of natural energy, of the essence of the life that every human being carries in him and that does not receive the attention it deserves. The image is like a sunny spring breeze in the dreary landscape that our society can be.

‘Dance is in itself an expression of vitality,’ Lise says, ‘It makes you happy, you dance when you are happy. When you are totally down, you don’t feel like moving anything.’ Dancing in the shop-window is a reflection of that happiness in life.

And it is shared. By a man and a woman or maybe by two men and two women. Their gender is irrelevant. They wear everyday, uniform clothes. The boys can also dance girl’s steps and vice versa. The dancers juggle with the entire scale of popular dances that surround us: from rock to salsa, jive, swing, merengue, waltz, and even the oriental dances you see on the TV-screens at the Pakistani night-shop. Music is the motor, but the couples are free to use all kinds of styles and mix them as much as they can. The idea is to reflect the cocktail of things that surround us in our daily lives, the things we hear and use without the need for any special initiation. The dancers are not obliged to dance well. They are allowed to step on each other’s toes, to fall, to slip. But they must smile.

It is not a performance. There is no beginning and no end. No one comes to see the entire show. You do not need a ticket. There are no costumes. The spectators are not invited to dance along. On the street, they can hardly hear the music. The phenomenon lasts a week, but it could also go on for a month. For practical reasons, Lise prefers to work with professional dancers, but it could also have been you. They are preferably average people: young, old, rich, short, tall, big, thin people. Because the dancers are not dancing for a public. They are dancing for themselves. They are dancing with each other. Together. They are outside the world. They are contained in a bubble called love, or a dream, or a desire called pleasure and joy called happiness by so many people. They do not watch the street. They are with each other.

The people on the street catch a glimpse of their intimacy. It surprises them. Maybe they even slow down their hasty pace, maybe they laugh, maybe they walk on with complete indifference, or maybe one of them continues his way dancing. The dancers have fun and infect the world outside with their liking, the longing, the force of the game and the pleasure. Lise: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we all went out dancing into the street and we sang what we want to say?’

It is Lise’s attitude, but it is also her adventure. Everything she does has some sharp sides. She places sunny humour in a dramatic setting. Her characters strive for an inner world of joy and carefree romanticism, but they constantly collide with the context of reality. Romantic scenes and images are abruptly interrupted by throbbing dustcarts and war reports (film Tes cheveux dans mes yeux) or physical violence (photo novel Love is for the birds). The characters – a woman or a couple – cannot escape from the society around them towards the ideal inner world they live in. The moments of tension eventually lead to nothing. The characters are stuck inside them. We all are.

The dance installation remains an ideal image, too. The shop-window shows the possible, but at the same time its closeness reflects the unreachable. Dance is a figure of tension between two people. In this artificial context, it is tingling under a bell glass. It is a moment with a mental potentiality. Therefore, in the best case it will produce liking, lust for life. As such, it forms the gate to the possible that Lise is interested in and that gives meaning to her work.

Lise’s work veils a poetical indictment of the consumption society, with an assiduous deconstruction of existing models and techniques (among others from fashion photography, film) and a purposeful transposition of dream and reality. In the film, the following words slide across the image of a supermarket with a big, empty car parking alongside a national trunk road: « à peine le temps – de comprendre la poussière – du sol se soulève le ciment – éclate partout ils tombent – morts »

She was inspired by Deleuze, to whom creation means: to resist. ’Croire non pas à un autre monde mais au lien de l’homme et du monde, à l’amour ou la vie, y croire comme à l’impossible, à l’impensable qui pourtant ne peut être pensé: Du possible sinon j’étouffe.’

The latter became the title of an in situ-exhibition, Du possible sinon j’étouffe/iets mogelijk of ik stik. Lise covered the whole interior of the unemployment benefits office of Sint-Joost with photographs of a dancing man and woman. The walls radiated yellow and green, sun and spring, hope, joy, energy, love and happiness. Without being smooth or dreamy. Realistic, thanks to the non professional models. She also gave the visitors little plants she grew herself from cuttings. Each plant had a little label with its life story on it: stolen in a shop in Bosvoorde, cut from Petra Bungert’s parent plant, found in the Zonien Forest. Or also: Pommier d’amour: ‘Attention: comme parfois l’amour, plante et fruit toxique’. The people received the story and were invited to continue cultivating it. They are small creations that continue their own lives all by themselves.

Lise Duclaux creates oxygen bubbles, intimacy full of sun and colour. She gives symbolic opportunities. A breathing pause. Life. In Pougues-les-Eaux the administrative team of the Centre of Contemporary Art used to look out on a grubby, dirty courtyard. Now, one year later, some thirty different types of wild flowers cover the place. With the flowers came the snails, the birds, the butterflies. Sometimes things can be so easy. ‘If you ask me, simplicity is at this moment the only convincing thing in this ‘complex’ world,’ Lise laughs. ‘All the rest would be just too exhausting to me. Fascism is knocking at the door, people adopt 101 attitudes and forget to live. When there is so much joy and pleasure everywhere around. It sounds tremendously paradoxical... but it’s so good to be alive!’

An Mertens

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