Stéphane Degoutin & Gwenola Wagon. Dance Party in Iraq

For a number of years Degoutin and Wagon have been collecting all the videos they could find on the internet of the craze of dancing US soldiers, posted from Iraq and Afghanistan. Initially, such videos were rare, but gradually a trend took off. Many of the films imitate music videos. One of them in particular—Dance Party in Iraq—found enormous viral success and inspired many other amateur video-makers.

These videos are documents of war, but they are not the images one would expect. They do not show any form of violence or conflict. On the contrary, in the majority of the videos the dance seems to be used as a peaceful way to interact with the local population. In other videos, the behaviour of the soldiers seems more insidious. The videos here are edited into a sequence to show these opposing situations, the result of which is often troubling or disturbing.

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Stéphane Degoutin was born 1973 in Toronto. He lives and works in Paris. He teaches at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD), Paris, and is a PhD student in Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS ). He graduated from the École Camondo, 1997.

Gwenola Wagon was born in 1975 in Paris, where she still lives and works. She is a member of the TEAMeD research team, AI-AC lab, at Paris 8 University. She is a docent at the Visual Arts department, Paris 8 University, where she defended her masters thesis (Potentialites d’un cinema interactif, 2001) and doctoral thesis in the field of visual arts (Utopies d’un cinema interactif, 2006). Gwenola also graduated in video art with the masters of arts degree from the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (ENSAD).