If I ask you to picture a musical jewelry box, your mind may conjure up the image of a small white chest with pink velvet interior and a ballerina, centered and spinning to a familiar tinker tune; the image is nostalgic, innocent, and sweet. Now I ask you to picture a large empty theater with dimmed lighting, red velvet interior, that same familiar tinker tune, and a real ballerina dancing atop a baby grand piano with stainless steel kitchen knives attached to the bottoms of her pointe shoes. That original wholesome image suddenly becomes dark, mysterious, and frankly, terrifying.
The latter is exactly the image Barcelona-based artist, Javier Pérez, constructed when he filmed French ballerina, Amélie Ségarra, for one of his latest video installations titled, En Puntas. Through still shots and close-ups, Pérez captured the essence of personal drive and stubborn determination for perfection, which so often takes humanity to dangerous lengths, as Ségarra tackled a feat most dancers wouldn’t and shouldn’t ever dare do. It’s hard not to cringe as the dancer stands for the first time in her bladed slippers and frustratedly screams as she endures the pain and horror of possibly slipping off the piano whenever she gets dangerously close to the edge. Besides the obvious shock-value of Pérez’s work, there is also something deeper being examined as the video description explains:
“Through this work, Javier Perez investigates and reflects once again upon the human condition. Using a strongly metaphorical language rich in powerful symbolism, he reveals the weaknesses that become the boundaries between seemingly irreconcilable concepts such as: beauty and cruelty, fragility and violence, culture and nature or life and death.”