The camera turns on, dominates the darkness but in the distance you can hear the beats of an unusual and very deep music, an almost tribal sound. The image appears: the director’s gaze is immersed in a group of people, the light is low and, creating deep and sharp light and shade, illuminates the center of a stage occupied by these guys. The director advances and continues, recording what happens behind them, but the movement is in leaps, irregular, interrupted by the figures in the foreground. Les Indes Galantes (2017) is a video of the artist Clément Cogitore that brings to the scene the K.R.U.M.P. crew of dancers  intent on performing an underground dance form of African-American origin (originally born in Los Angeles), with the will to manifest through the body a political and social revolt. In a totally unexpected way, this group of boys from the ghetto dances to the notes of the opera-ballet of 1735 composed by Jean Philippe Rameau, with which the video also shares the title.

For 5 minutes and 26 seconds Cogitore takes the viewer into this whirlwind of broken movements, grimaces and body dialogues between the different dancers: the expressive and subversive power of a dance that is born inside the ghettos blends, both harmoniously and impulsive, relates an unexpected energy, vital and reactionary at the same time. Dance, body and music become a form of expression that surprises for its violence and tension in gestures but able to return the need and perhaps the urgency of a political emancipation: the dancers challenge each other to join in, in a spasmodic and necessary search for affirmation and recognition of one’s own identity. Cogitore uses, also on this occasion, a symbolism of poetic matrix that makes Les indes Galantes powerful and provocative as a magical ritual, letting emerge the deepest emotion of the human being.

Cogitore is not distracted by movements and sound, even with a fragmented trend, he moves around these vibrating bodies to be able to return, with the rhythm of the shooting, that same fracture that characterizes the muscle movements and the musical composition. Dance is the instrument chosen to investigate the dynamics of aggregation of a community that now dialogues with a epidermal and body linguistic system.

The closing of the video accompanies us and takes leave with an open view, now it is possible to follow and collect the whole group of boys and girls in one look, the music fades and remain the screams of joy of the dancers, compounds in a proximity that is no longer collision or tension but pure positive energy.

Les indes Galantes is on display at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin within the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art 2022, which will continue until 18 September 2022.


Clément Cogitore
Les Indes Galantes, 2017
HD video, ed of 5 + 2AP, 6min,
Courtesy: the artist and Chantal Crousel Consulting, Paris and Galerie Reinhard Hauff, Stuttgard
Choreographers: Brahim Rachiki, Igor Carouge and Bintou Dembélé