Title of Work: PAX DE DEUX
Artist: Zuzanna Janin
Year Produced: 2001
Medium: Video Installation
Duration: 5 min

With a title appropriated from ballet, Zuzanna Janin’s “Pas De Deux” (2001) revels in ambiguity. Shot in a jerking close-up of two pairs of legs in constant motion on a blank white background, we are drawn into what could be a dance as readily as a fight. It is a dialogue between two bodies, a give and take of power and physical space. It is also a different perspective on one of Janin’s best-known works, the video installation “The Fight (IloveYouToo)” (2001), where the slight, fragile looking artist takes on a professional heavyweight boxer. To create this work, Janin spent 6 months training with him in the ring. The boxing match in “The Fight” is real and harrowing to watch in its intensity. The camera weaves in and out, dodging and feinting with the fighter’s blows, as close-up and personal as the physical act of combat. Yet for Janin, this combat between two mismatched opponents is also a dance, a language allowing two bodies to communicate. The direct perspective of the camera in “The Fight” draws us into the brutality of this uneven combat. But changing the perspective and dropping the camera to ground level suddenly reveals the ambiguity lurking beneath the violence. For “Pas De Deux,” Janin’s fight performance is shot with the intimacy of a camera moving with the two bodies as they follow the same motions as “The Fight,” but without seeing the blows. The violent mismatch is transfigured into a match, a term which in sports signifies a contest between opposing competitors, whilst in normal usage it means a harmonious pair.

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