Rond de jambe par terre


video 45´, wood, mirrors, spatial installation


Similarly as his other projects, Boris Beja’s latest multimedia installation Lesson 45 that premieres at the UGM Studio, derives from personal experience and confrontation with one’s everyday life, translating them into broader encounters with social, cultural, or political phenomena. The initial point of this project was the artist’s recreational attendance of ballet classes for beginners. Through elemental pole exercises in a mirrored training hall, he was learning for two years the fundamentals of ballet language and the steps to overcome the limits of physical performance under the watchful eye of his own control and self-criticism. He recorded the last, 45th lesson, in a video (Lesson 45, video, 2020, 45 min).

The artist used one of the main ballet exercises—Rond de jambe par terre—in which the dancer draws a virtual semicircle on the floor with his toe to the extreme capacity of the movement, as a starting point for the basic structural element of his installation—the “rond” (circle). It consists of a series of identical, hand-made pentagons arranged into a raster or geometric pattern on the floor of a simulated training hall. The pentagon unfolds as a pattern throughout the gallery and becomes a parkour for the participatory involvement of the viewer as a random actor in a spontaneous choreography. The source of the Lesson 45 audio-video impulses, which is hidden behind the mirror, can only be reached with artful movement through the intertwined network of “ronds”. The repetition of ballet rehearsals is reflected in the repetition of the form, the art object; the repetition of the form creates a new space of movement and synchronisation. (Rond de jambe par terre, 2020, installation [wood, mirror], variable dimensions)

The “rond” is also a synonym for the outlines and limitations of the body, which is being delineated and at the same time annihilated by the classical ballet. Ballet techniques make it possible to discover the extreme limits of body coordination and the synchronisation of arms, head, eyes, and legs, and seemingly transform complex movements into perfectly natural ones.  Two interesting reflections on movement and performativity are opened up by Lesson 45, which the artist (perhaps intentionally) manages to address with his motion image. The first reflection relates to the attitude of the modern human towards movement. In later or rational life, the human becomes more cautious, suspicious, or even hostile towards movement, and forgets that movement is the basic experience of existence. “We forget that life is movement and that movement is life” (Rudolf von Laban, The Language of Movement, 1974). We lack the experience of the joy of movement as a spontaneous life action. Therefore, such an action must be re-created, so to speak, artificially, which the artist manifests by inviting the viewer to co-create a “rondoid” choreography.  (Text: Simona Vidmar, curator at UGM)