Universal Tongue is a video collection of humanity dancing, a project that Anouk Kruithof herself refers to as a "Dancyclopaedia". Under the artist's direction, a team of 52 "collectors", spread across the world, gathered 8,800 videos of dances of all kinds via social media (YouTube, Facebook and Instagram), performed by amateurs or professionals, children, teenagers, adults or even avatars in the world of virtual reality. The installation has been presented in various institution, including the Basel Tinguely Museum, where the videos were shown on eight large screens that filled the exhibition space. The version offered at the Le Havre Docks consists of a large screen presenting a sequence of these videos of dancers from around the world, on a four-hour loop. A sound composition of electro rhythms accompanies these videos, specially created by the artist and designer Karoliina Pärnänen Anouk Kruithof describes her work as a "horizontal" project, as it effectively erases hierarchies established between countries, continents and cultures by bringing them together around the sole pleasure of moving bodies.
"Universal Tongue was born from my fascination for dance videos distributed online as a representation of self-expression, cultural identity, empowerment and fun. Dance shows the human family in the constant interconnectedness of experience – unity in diversity. This work explores how dance has developed throughout history as part of our global media culture and it nowadays manifests online across platforms like YouTube and Instagram. And dance we will. We will do so solo, in style, with a webcam, or as devoted representatives of our social life, our social circles, our peers. Universal Tongue shows us in our natural habitat, online and offline, living in our time of endless connectivity and mutual recognition of individuality as a human achievement and joy. »
The project's dedicated website (universaltongue.com) presents all the dances, listed in alphabetical order.