The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Black Box theater is currently featuring a video by the Spanish art collaborative Democracia. Called “Ser y Durar” (“To Be and to Last”), the 20-minute work centers on a team of traceurs, or practitioners of the urban sport of parkour, in which athletes run and jump around architectural obstacles. The traceurs here wear matching orange hoodies, and are seen running through the grounds of a historic Madrid cemetery.
At times, the whole thing resembles a slick advertisement for sportswear. But what the video is really selling is an abstract idea. On one level, it’s the notion that life goes on in the face of death, a platitude represented by the seemingly unstoppable speed and vigor of the traceurs, who are shown leaping and flipping over tombstones.
But there’s another subtler message too. The traceurs in the video don’t just move with economy, but with gymnastic flourish, even when they don’t have to. Life, in other words, isn’t merely about surviving, but about doing so in style.
Read my review, and check out a selection of images from the show in the gallery at the top of this post.