As a complement to Stan Douglas’s work, Luanda-Kinshasa, installed in the Studio (Level -2), the Bourse de Commerce presented a programme entitled Protest Sounds, an ensemble of video works from the Pinault Collection from 9 March to 13 June2021.
The video installation by Chinese artist Cao Fei, Whose Utopia, Returning a Sound by Allora & Calzadilla and English Magic by Jeremy Deller were displayed in the Foyer.
Each of these works features a kind of opposition, with sound playing a determining role, either by emphasising what is onscreen or by instead creating a dissonance with the image. Although these films act as a warning sign regarding the human condition, their message is always bound up in a political context: Whose Utopia brings to life the existential aspirations of workers in the Pearl River Delta, the hub of China’s industrial boom; Returning a Sound portrays the reclaiming by Puerto Ricans of a territory occupied by the American Army. English Magic presents a strange national novel, where iconic pieces of English music are played by amateurs, interspersed with images of local cultural identity.
For all these artists, the absurd plays a role: Allora & Calzadilla’s exhaust pipe trumpet acts as a reappropriation of dispossessed territory; Jeremy Deller plays with national British symbols, while the alienating world of the factory is infected by workers’ dreams and hobbies.
Just like Luanda-Kinshasa, which for the duration of the video recreates Miles Davis’s utopia of a postcolonial music, these artworks invigorate the idea of another possible world; a fragile idea in perpetual gestation, continually threatened by different forces of oppression.
In the Foyer,
Cao Fei, Whose Utopia, 2006–07
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Returning a Sound, 2004 Jeremy Deller, English Magic, 2013
In the Studio, Stan Douglas, Luanda-Kinshasa, 2013