Exhibition View M+M, Kunstmuseum Bonn 2005, Photo: Friedhelm Schulz.

Dance with me, Germany

29. April 2005 - 1. Mai 2005

Curator: Georg Elben, Videonale Bonn

A rather strange scenario: a young couple is relaxing on a bed and chatting ... about this and that, one might presume. But suddenly he says, "You have to insult state officials, it´s what they need, I tell you, otherwise they get too smug, they take liberties. Why do you think a difference is made between a normal insult, lèse-majesty and insulting a public servant? If anything, insulting a public servant is just a peccadillo. Actually, it´s self-defence." Cut!

According to press reports, Dance with me, Germany by the artist duo M+M is about the young Munich Turk, Mehmet, whose numerous offences caused him to be deported as an adolescent to Turkey in 1998. But on closer examination the film is about much more, if not indeed about something entirely different. In the course of 13 minutes, on four translucent screens, six episodes are recounted which in highly varied ways all deal with interpersonal dialogue and communication. A cool encounter between two dealers in a suburban ghetto, the aforementioned relaxed ruminations of a couple lying on a bed, the violent conversation between a teacher and his pupil, someone calmly zapping channels on his living-room TV and, last but not least, the exaggeratedly cool closing credits whose typography heightens the mood of each film sequence and derisively chants: "Actual native citizen", "Ex-native speaker", "Tape me the song of death".

The formal and conceptual reference to Westerns from the 1960s and 1970s is as obvious as it is disturbing, for the constantly repeated question is never answered. Who is bad, who embodies good, who wins out over whom? Henry Fonda vs. Charles Bronson: whereas in Once upon a time in the West the bad white man faces down the good Mexican in the blinding midday sun, in Dance with me, Germany the hierarchy between the teacher and his Turkish pupil is discomfortingly reversed. The focus is on power and hierarchy - not in the conventional sense of physical superiority but as the psychological expression of power driven by language, role-play and body language.

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