Schneider’s seven-and-a-half minute video Slow Dance explores themes of thwarted intimacy in an anonymous dive-bar setting. It recalls Brassaï’s 1930s-era portraits of Parisian nightclubs, where private passions were put on public display. Schneider likewise views the bar as a public stage, where one’s attraction to (or antipathy for) others is ritualistically conveyed. Like a queen holding court, a female bartender presides over the scene, watching intently as a young man, played by Schneider’s brother, is reluctantly drawn onto the dance floor by a pretty blond woman. Just as the couple’s awkward embrace takes a turn for the genuinely sensual, a “double” wriggles out from beneath each dancer’s clothing (the male’s double is portrayed by Schneider herself) and mirrors each of their movements. Pulling back, the camera reveals a mutant tangle of bodies. At once creepy and unexpectedly poignant, Schneider’s works portray the erotic’s vulnerability when confronted with the magnitude of human need.
Excerpted from Claudine Ise's review of Schneider's 12x12 solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, for the December 2009 issue of Artforum