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Sven Augustijnen, L'École des pickpockets (The School of Pickpockets), 2000, video, colour, sound, 48min, stills. Courtesy the artist and Jan Mot, Brussels
The muffled laughter of the camera operator accompanies its jittery movements, as it sweeps upwards and across the façade of a building on the other side of the street, in the opening shot of Sven Augustijnen’s film Iets op Bach (Something on Bach, 1998). The camera peers into several windows to reveal here and there empty offices and bicycle storage. It finally reaches a set of windows that look onto a large, brightly lit and sparsely furnished room, decorated with paper garlands and stocked with snacks and drinks. A party seems to be in progress, and a dozen people move around, chatting and gesturing animatedly. The camera settles on this scene, alternating between close-ups and wider shots, moving jumpily from left to right and back, sporadically losing its focus. It shows us a fight between two girls, while a man skips across the length of the room in ballet moves, his open, printed shirt fluttering about as he twirls and jumps. Outside, dusk settles into darkness, and the blackened frames of the windows fragment the party scene: drinks are drunk, conversations continue in twos and threes and games are played. Occasionally the revellers all get up and briefly dance together, ignorant, it seems, of the prying camera. Yet even at this distance there seems to be something skewed about the party: the gestures seem a little selfconscious, the gaiety somewhat excessive, the lights just too bright. It looks like a pantomime as much as a real party, and evokes those reality TV shows in which young adults locked up together share exacerbated personal interactions with millions.1 A bride shows up and then a man with