From March 11 to May 29, 2022, the Spazio Zero of the GAMeC welcomes Dancing Plague, the winning project of the eleventh edition of the Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi per l’Arte – EnterPrize headed by the Greek curator Panos Giannikopoulos.

Setting out from the evocation of the historical event of the Dancing Plague, the curator creates a dialogue between post-medieval European history, the issues of colonialism and the recent experience of the pandemic, through the works of Benni Bosetto (IT), Ufuoma Essi (UK), Klaus Jürgen Schmidt (SA), Lito Kattou (CY), Petros Moris (GR), Eva Papamargariti (GR/UK), Konstantinos Papanikolaou (GR), Mathilde Rosier (FR/DE), Michael Scerbo (IT/UK) and Elisa Zuppini (IT/NL).

The jury—chaired by Lorenzo Giusti, Director of GAMeC, and featuring Marina Fokidis, independent curator and writer from Athens, and Roberta Tenconi, curator of Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan—particularly appreciated the imaginative character of Giannikopoulos’s project, presented by Marily Konstantinopoulou and Dimitra Nikolou: co-founders and directors of ARTWORKS, Athens, for its ability to bring together various media and experiences, reflecting from an original perspective on the concepts of dance, body, and disease.

Dancing Plague is the term used to describe a social phenomenon that emerged in Europe between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, when in a sort of collective hysteria, groups of people danced non-stop in a trance-like state for weeks at a time, with participants collapsing from exhaustion and injury, and even dying from strokes and heart attacks.

This exhibition reappraises this episode of cultural contagion and virality, examining its social and gender context, its reappearance over the centuries, and its similarity to events that have occurred elsewhere. Starting from the slippery slope of history, through the movement of bodies, Dancing Plague explores imaginary links to recent cultural expressions of resistance and brings together witches, more-than-human creatures, and nightclub-goers in one circular dance.

The exhibition addresses themes such as queer theory and the death drive, dance as a means of creating identity and cultural resistance for less privileged bodies, the movement of essential organs and limbs transformed into language, as well as dance as an exploration and invention of the potential of our bodies, as a means of relating to other bodies and transforming ourselves and those around us, as an inter-lingual praxis that breaks down social boundaries and reveals a kind of awareness that has been oppressed by the symbolic order.

Eva Papamargariti’s audiovisual work explores the concepts of excess, balance and exhaustion through the mysterious choreography of a creature halfway between mythology and sci-fi, struggling to find an equilibrium and using its body as its only tool.

Benni Bosetto’s sculptures simulate a superorganism fused with the environment, free from both container and form, whose features evoke primordial and elementary shapes in which each creature is akin to the others.

In Mathilde Rosier’s works, the narrative is provided by dance, music, and symbolic elements, which lead to an understanding of the world through bodily experience.

Ufuoma Essi explores the body as a central core of memory and resistance, a mediator between life and transgenerational histories, between past, present, and future.

In Lito Kattou’s installation, the bodies of three mantises are arranged in a dialogue with sunrise and sunset, as part of a series of paintings in which the artist examines the circularity of time and its flow through the relationship of human and non-human agents to the environment and the astral phenomena of the sun.

Petros Moris’s light sculptures reflect on the prodigiousness of the inner bodily form, on the silent perpetual dance of the circulatory systems that make life possible, on the fragility and vitality of the Other that must find its reflection in one’s own interiority.

Konstantinos Papanikolaou focuses on the performative body, on subjectivity, historical recollection and personal memory. He muses over archival documents, roams with them, plays with their interpretation and verbally reconstructs their steps in the present context.

In Vision Spells—a new production by Klaus Jürgen Schmidt for GAMeC—a collection of gazes borrowed from iconic faces of deceased people but also from the faces of young homosexuals in revolt are reorganized and leveled within a spiral, absorbed and hyper-connected in a frenetic circular grouping that travels through time, creating proximity and intimate contact.

Finally, Michael Scerbo and Elisa Zuppini will propose hybrid Bacchanalian performance events that combine various formats (sensory performance/conference, workshops, clubbing) to lead visitors on a multi-sensory journey through three concepts that lie at the heart of different worlds and times.

The curatorial approach behind Dancing Plague is collaborative, including artists from various backgrounds who dialogue by generating gestures in a constant flow, reacting to place and audience and dissolving spatial boundaries while engaging in mental and physical dance exercises. The exhibition space is a place of engagement that thereby questions the roles of participant and observer, and rethinks the visual, auditory as well as the tactile dimensions.

The Premio Lorenzo Bonaldi per l’Arte – EnterPrize is the major international acknowledgment dedicated to curators under 30, conceived by the GAMeC in 2003 with the support of the Gruppo Bonaldi, and which first emerged from the desire to commemorate Lorenzo Bonaldi’s passion for art and collecting.

Ever since its foundation, the Prize has always aimed to underline the central role and the meaning of the figure of the curator on the international artistic stage through the production of an original exhibition project, conceived on the basis of a given exhibition space and a fixed budget.

Previous editions of the Award have seen the following projects staged over the years: Another Zero, curated by November Paynter (2004); No Manifesto, curated by Andrea Viliani (2005); Aesthetics / Dietetics, curated by Mizuki Endo (2006); Data Recovery, curated by Övül Durmusoglu (2008); L’ipotesi del cristallo, curated by Yoann Gourmel and Élodie Royer (2010); The Log-O-Rithmic, curated by Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen (2012); Mississippi, curated by Sam Korman (2014); Soft Crash, curated by Xiaoyu Weng (2016); Enchanted Bodies / Fetish for Freedom, curated by Bernardo Mosqueira (2018); In The Forest, Even The Air Breathes, curated by Abhijan Toto (2020).

Dancing Plague
curated by Panos Giannikopoulos (GR)

Benni Bosetto (IT, 1987)
Ufuoma Essi (UK, 1995)
Klaus Jürgen Schmidt (SA, 1982)
Lito Kattou (CY, 1990)
Petros Moris (GR, 1986)
Eva Papamargariti (GR/UK, 1987)
Konstantinos Papanikolaou (GR, 1989)
Mathilde Rosier (FR/DE, 1973)
Michael Scerbo (IT/UK, 1995)
Elisa Zuppini (IT/NL, 1995)

Panos Giannikopoulos (b. 1991) is an independent curator.
He holds an MA in Gender, Society and Politics (Panteion University, Greece) following on from his studies in History, Archaeology and History of Art (National Kapodistrian University, Greece). He is currently working for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Artist Fellowship Program of ARTWORKS, while previous roles include that of Curator & Researcher at the Contemporary Greek Art Institute (ISET) and the arts section editor for NOMAS Magazine. He is a member of the curatorial team of the Mediterranea 19 Young Artists Biennale “School of Waters,” which took place in San Marino in 2021.