Pablo Bronstein: Historical Dances in an Antique Setting – review

Tate Britain, London SW1
Pablo Bronstein’s trompe l’oeils with dancers invite wry smiles as much as contemplation

Three young dancers are preening, twirling and gliding through the marble canyons of the Duveen galleries at Tate Britain. Every now and again they pause in order to strike some exaggerated pose. It might be a weak wrist to the forehead, as if receiving shocking news, or a flighty twist of the hip that suggests utter nonchalance in the face of so many gaping passersby, surprised to find their route to the pre-Raphaelites or conceptualists interrupted by a trio of ballet dancers on manoeuvres. The spectacle ranges from full camp to classical froideur.

Which is exactly as it should be given the immense stage set created for their performance. At one end of the Duveens, as they are known, is a colossal trompe l’oeil panel that runs floor to ceiling and side to side so that it exactly fills the space which it depicts (at least if you turned the building inside out, or outside in). For the image shows the neoclassical facade of Tate Britain through which you have only just entered. But it is curiously adapted, so that the statue of Britannia no longer rules the waves of visitors coming up the steps – she’s been deleted – and a number of new decorative details have been added that (very loosely) quote from the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, among others.

Bronstein’s wit reveals itself best on a small scale, when you have to peer into the image to discover his spry conceits

The costumes – black leggings, red jerseys and ropes of outsize pearls – feel like a throwback to the 1980s

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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