Yao Qingmei in 2017 Art Basel Hong Kong Film Section

Yao Qingmei丨Spectre Solaire: Ballet de la Nuit

Curator: Li Zhenhua

Screening Dates: 2017.03.20, 23, 25

Screening Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Hong Kong Arts Centre


About the Work

The choreography featured in the work is inspired by classical dance positions of the Royal Ballet, which combine together with gestures used by tourists to take photographs. The ballet dancer both observes and records through a dance, a portrait of Louis XIV displayed in the Louvre Museum. The image captures the moving dancer as she films the space on video, but also depicts at the same time the video taken from the camera controlled by the dancer, contrasting these two different perspectives together. The Latin etymology of the word ‘spectre’ evokes an image as an apparition – drawing focus on the origins of ballet, which originally was used as a political instrument in the court of Louis XIV, as well as drawing attention to how the monarch consolidated his imperial autocratic power.

An opera singer performs an ‘exhibition guide tour’ in the form of a baroque-style aria. The performer is at the same time both solemn and comical like a character from the Royal Court. The spoken exhibition text comprises an analysis of the political symbolism and also introduces elements of intervention into the display room of the ‘Sun King’. The moving-image switches between reality and a theatrical space – viewed from the perspective of an observer, which follows the tour guide as they enter into the interior of a staged setting.


Image: Yao Qingmei, Spectre Solaire: Ballet de la Nuit I, 2016, video, 8’10”