A visit to Centquatre

Art& dialogue

Field trip 2 Art & Dialogue

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon I entered the 39 000 m²  multi-purpose and multi-disciplinary Centquatre: visual arts, film screenings, theater,  installations and most apparent a social environment for the public and street dancers.

Dances that evolve between people in a social environment, although it cannot be always determined as to how they actually do evolve between people. wikipedia

Was it a rainy day that brought at least 20 groups of young people from different cultural backgrounds to the Centquatre to practice their moves?  Notebooks with choreography notations on the floor, small music installations beating a pulse set to a volume to reach just the perimeter of the group. Solo workers, head phone on the ears working their body. Yet in their own world the dancers observed, were observed, arousing, enthralling. Giving us  amusement, gaiety, pride, desire,  passion, compassion and sentimentality.
Exchanging basic emotions.

Earlier that morning in Valerie Kabov’s (course coordinator) presentation about ”how do we perceive ART” , she introduced the program talking to us about food. We have four basic tastes (bitterness, saltiness, sourness, and sweetness). With those basic tastes we can make several combinations which enables us to describe a taste.
Using a number of  basic emotions like anger, empathy, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise we could describe how we feel about an art work using one or/and a combination of these emotions. Using this as a tool, anyone can view art and decide for him/her self what emotion it evokes. You don’t have to understand art to feel an emotion.

This week I had two 11 year old boys in the class. The bell went, they ran out, a push became a shove…. a teacher saw what was about to happen, grabbed the boys by their collars and pulled them back into the class. She sat them down. Their faces white, nostrils flared, lips thin, eyes fixed, eyebrows knotted.
“Okay, tell us what happened?” the teacher asked.
No answer.
Turning to the other boy, ‘then, you start, tell us what happened.’
Without going into details, it was, ”he did, I did, then he did..”
”How does it make you feel?”
”I am angry!” he replied with great force.
The teacher faced the first boy, ”and how does it make you feel?”
“Angry!”
”So it seems,” the teacher continued looking them both in the eye, ”it seems as if you are both angry.”
Their faces still pale, their lips thin, but now their eyes were no longer fixed, but free. The initial acknowledgement of their feelings heard seemed to clear the air as though the blinds were lifted and the light streamed in.

Next time I go to a museum, I will try an experiment with a number of flashcards. On each card a word with one basic emotion (and like taste, there are different lists). With these words I will test what emotions it evokes, omitting details such as the maker and the history.

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One thought on “A visit to Centquatre

  1. To expect art to provoke emotions just like food is a very basic, first level of “reading”. I would expect to hear about the mind paths, the trips that art brings us to; when it is good art the trip is different each time we look.

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