Cyprien Gaillard (born 1980 in Paris, France; lives and works in New York City, USA and Berlin, Germany).

Video with sound; 30 min.

“The three-part video opens with a static establishing shot of Genex Tower, the colossal, Brutalist style building in Belgrade, Serbia, whose twin concrete towers are connected near the top by a bridge-like structure and capped with a bizarre rotunda that once housed a revolving restaurant. The video… then cuts to a parking lot of a drab housing complex in St. Petersburg, Russia, where we witness two large groups of men—one mostly wearing red shirts and the other blue—slowly walking towards each other. Set by Gaillard to the hypnotic electronic beats of French composer Koudlam’s ‘I See you All,’ the video shows the color-coordinated groups marching in loose formation, reminiscent of ancient armies confronting each other on some distant battlefield. Suddenly, signal flares billowing smoke arc through the air and the two groups come together, clashing in flurry of fists—a breathtaking display of raw physical violence set against the stark backdrop of the housing block. As the sounds of Koudlam’s pulsing music draw louder and more urgent, the furious hand-to-hand combat intensifies while bodies of the fallen lay strewn on the pavement. Before long, the blue faction beats a hasty retreat, only to regroup moments later on one side of a nearby pedestrian bridge. The two sides come together again, this time clashing on the impossibly narrow span of the footbridge. The blue group is once more chased off, and the victors in red erupt in victorious celebration.”
—Max Weintraub, “Cyprien Gaillard: Video in an Age of Doubt,” Art 21, February 7, 2013.

“What we see above, explains the [MoMA PS1] wall placard, is a hoard of ‘young ruffians who meet on the internet and plan elaborate public fights.’ The ‘ruffians’—many of them strangers, presumably, given the way they organized—wear red or blue shirts so they know who to attack. They assemble quickly, pummel one another for a few minutes, then disperse, in true flash mob fashion. It’s like a massive, 2.0 version of the rumble in The Outsiders.

 “Perhaps violent, internet-driven phenomena like this are inevitable in places where, as the Pussy Riot debacle showed us, dissent is regularly crushed with impunity. But Gaillard seems preoccupied not so much with social media or overt political repression as he is with the politics of architecture, urban environments, ‘progress’ and its decay. That’s emphasized by the film’s location: a… public housing tower complex that could just as well be the project high-rises of major American cities, or the banlieue or council estates outside Paris and London.”
—Austin Considine, “What Happens When Social Media and Soviet-Era Public Housing Collide,” Motherboard, March 5, 2013.

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