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Anouk Kruithof – Universal Tongue

9 February - 8 May 2022

Twerking, Vogue, Fortnite, flash mobs, a Sufi or chair dance: YouTube is full of videos of people dancing. And there are more dance videos uploaded every minute. With a team of 52 researchers from all over the world, artist Anouk Kruithof researched dance videos on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Together they found 1,000 dance styles in 196 countries, brought together in Universal Tongue. This 4-hour video installation is arranged over eight screens and contains no less than 32 hours of found footage, arranged by rhythm and number of dancers.

Artist Anouk Kruithof is fascinated by dance as a form of self-expression and empowerment. And for Universal Tongue she researched how dance has developed throughout history as part of our global media culture, and how dance manifests itself on social media platforms. Together with a team of 52 researchers from around the world, Anouk collected more than 8,800 dance videos that could be found on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Each entered the same search terms, and because of their different geographic locations, the researchers ended up with different search results – varying from the abakúa from Cuba and the Argentine tango to the Zimbabwean sungura and the zwiefacher from Germany.


Photo: Vincent Basler

In total, Anouk and her team found 1,000 dance styles in 196 countries and selected some 250 hours of dance videos. In the video installation Universal Tongue, Kruithof shows that dance is actually a universal language, spoken by different subcultures, distributed virally and travelling across all cultural boundaries.

‘When you look past all the cultural differences, you see that really everyone gets so much energy from dancing with their bodies. That is something that connects people and I think that is beautiful.’ – Anouk Kruithof