Igor Grubic: East Side Story
14 Sep – 4 Nov 2012
The 2012 exhibition programme in the Turku Art Museum features video and media art by artists from the Balkan region. The work next on show is East Side Story (2008, 14 min.), a 2-channel video work by the Croatian artist Igor Grubić (b. 1969). One channel of the work consists of footage recorded by television cameras during the first gay pride parades of the countries in Belgrade in 2001 and in Zagreb in 2002. The documentary video shows candidly the violent encounters that flared up between the paraders, their opponents and passers-by. In parallel with the documentary, we see a group of dancers from Zagreb performing poignant reinterpretations of the mood of the parades amidst crowds in the streets of their home town.

The mood at the beginning of East Side Story is expectant. The participants of the gay pride parade are obviously proud of their demonstration, yet they also seem a little tense. Banners claim human rights for gays. The group of neo-Nazis whips up the mood with rhythmic slogans and raised fists. The police are prepared for a clash. Suddenly a small shove turns into a wild fight. The roaming camera records shocking scenes, people being kicked in the head, a woman running in desperation after a police car to get help, blood flowing. The parade participants try to fend for themselves, media people run inside tear gas trying to record the events, while the ferocity of the opponents gets only worse. Onlookers also participate in the scene by shouting and choosing sides. Feeling runs high – people from different sides fight against each other and try to behave as expected, the police as well as the media included.

During the parades, the passers-by react to what they see, but do they react to the soundless dancers in the street? The gestures and movements of the dancers communicate deep feelings about what they have seen and experienced. Each of the four dancers give their own interpretation of the events, and finally they all dance together, entwining together. The movements of the dancers underline the appalling encounters recorded by the media, making the audience feel them viscerally. The body is very much present in Grubić’s East Side Story. Violence is unleashed in the form of inconceivable acts. Everyone tries to shield their own body, sudden sounds make people cringe. Through the body, the dancers express a range of emotions from confusion to anger. Yet at the root of the differences of opinion is the human capacity to love one another and accept others – emotions expressed with the body.

ARTIST’S TALK: On Thursday 13 September 2012 Igor Grubić will give a talk in English about his artistic practice in the Kuvateatteri of the Turku Arts Academy (Linnankatu 54–60) starting at 2 pm. Admission is free and the talk is open to the public.
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