coming performances

next week I’m presenting “Piece about disappearance” once more in Amsterdam. Ingrid is working abroad and we couldn’t arrange for her to be here for the shows, so I will be performing the second solo. the space, Frascati WG, is also radically different from Hetveem (black walls, ‘landscape’ kind of proportions) and I’ve been introducing some important changes in the video projections. all in all I’m quite excited to see how it works out, I think with these adjustments the work has grown a bit more…

performances are 25 and 26 October in Frascati WG, Amsterdam, and on the 8th of November in De Lieve Vrouw, Amersfoort. for this show in Amersfoort Ingrid will be back performing her solo.

photos performances may

more imaginary dialogues

I still don’t know exactly what this text should offer to the audience of this performance. Different people seem to have different needs and I don’t think I add much by trying to please them. But as I try to share my thoughts about this work I also notice that this work expands beyond the performance, and maybe that is what this text can explain.

This piece brings together my obsession with the issue of forced disappearance of people during Argentina’s last dictatorship and my ideas about what is a contemporary artistic discourse. In this space I can continue understanding my identity in terms of political and artistic ideas, and how it can overcome this distinction.

The work starts from the question of how I could approach bodily this historical subject. Is it possible to try to learn about it through a physical activity? Can I exercise a relation to it which is not only intellectual? Will it make me grow?

I started by engaging with documentation about the dictatorship. The most prominent became a book (the “Nunca más” report) and photos of the detention centres. Over time and through sharing my findings and thoughts with William, Ingrid, Diego and other friends, I came to define starting frames of work – the concepts for the two solos. The idea behind them has been to focus on a specific document (ultimately, 2 series of photographs) and source information out of it by realizing a physical activity. The photos became our interface to access history.

Two aspects seemed appropriate and relevant. On one hand, the incompleteness of the information. Trying to learn about a person or a space through just one still image is almost unreasonable. This seemed to mirror the aspect that made forced disappearance of people such a dramatic event: the absence of a body, the impossibility to give closure, the sense of incompleteness. On the other hand, working with these photos only allowed us to stage one thing: our processes of work. At some point we gave these processes the names of sensing, remembering and imagining, and they helped us articulate our understanding of how our bodies processed the information of the images. It also helped us to think about multiple and diverse distances to the things we were trying to touch.

Attending to these processes started creating movements and images in the space. In the end we came to create a piece which I see as an interface to the audience. A series of activities are realized on stage to produce something (an atmosphere, a sensation, a feeling, an association) that the audience can perceive. And in this moment we share the resonances of this history.

imagining the coming encounter

next week we will perform in Het Veem theater, in Amsterdam. anticipating this encounter with the audience I can’t help but think again about questions that different people posed at me. writing I am constantly negotiating between what the textual content says (trying to be clear enough for a reader that is not familiar with my whole thinking history in this project) and with remaining transparent about my own uncertainties and contradictions… I asked myself again what could the audience get from this work. I don’t want to excuse myself, but I also don’t like assuming that I know or can indicate what they should make out of my work. but I tried to write something in response to the question:

This work reactualizes each time its  intention of exercising memory. This work promises no answers but tries to be as honest as possible about its limitations and blank spaces. Many answers are absent here. This work states that it can engage with this subject. It sounds tautological, but it is what it is. It’s true. A tautology is a true that doesn’t move very far from itself. But this work is put into the space, in a room together with a lot of other bodies. This work is an act of speech, a word put out of a body (or several bodies). And it starts moving away from itself when it is watched, when it is questioned, when it initiates a dialogue with other ideas inside new bodies.

Surely many works of art do that. This work intersects the specific memory of state terrorism in Argentina during the 1970’s with the personal stories of some people here, in this specific time.

This work considers it important to defend humanistic values, among others the right to a dignified life and the right to free expression. And it considers it important to not reproduce the common sense and clichés of how a discourse about these values should be constructed. This work will say again something that has been said many times. And it will challenge itself to say it in a new way, in a way that opens up new sensitivities, new time frames, new thoughts. This work will re-state something it considers important and will attempt to refresh its potential.

To not take things for granted and challenge the creativity of a discourse on human rights pays tribute to the incredibly creative responses that emerged in that time, such as the movements of Mothers and Grandmothers, who 30 years later keep playing a huge political role in the defence of human rights far beyond the emblematic claim of re-appearance of the victims.

vulnerability

a short thought about it: this piece is becoming more and more precious to me. it’s been a very special (both difficult and fulfilling) process of work, and now it’s coming to some sort of conclusion. and the more the work becomes precious, the more scared and nervous I get about my (our) encounter with the audience.

I’ve been writing a lot today and I think this vulnerability of the work shows up a lot throughout the writing. the question that remains (William pointed out something similar at the end of our last rehearsal in Essen) is if the choreography will manage to transpire that fragility. if it will really communicate the resonance that this subject and process of work have in me, as I’ve been writing many times.

coming shows

intensive week

here a log of the work we did in Germany during April. the days were very long and intense, and productive, though of course I would like to work for longer.
originally I planned to focus on the structure of the work, thinking about more complex forms of alternation/interaction between the 2 solos. in our november presentations the structure was very simple (1 solo after the other) and, after discussing the work with several people from our audience, I had in mind that it was necessary to complicate the structure and search for a more sophisticated form (composition) that would offer more options to the audience’s attention. in that same line, there was a thought to make sound and video more complex and more present in order to introduce a more concrete and recognizable context.
but: thinking things through, watching the videos and preparing for the rehearsals in Essen I had again the opposite feeling. that the work needs more simplicity and straightforwardness, less artifice, to heighten what’s really strong in it. the physical work, presence and concentration of the performers is really the core of this piece. all my attempts at layering more with video and sound felt arbitrary and forced. beyond moments in which the elements would come together satisfactorily, they would give me an overall feeling of unnecessary embellishment. it might partly be due to my lack of certain skills (particularly with sound), but I also trust the intuition that cleaning up from unnecessary elements empowers the work we have been doing with the performers bodies and minds.
through the week of work in Essen again we came back to the bareness of the 2 solos with almost no video or sound, and to the simple form of one solo after the other, with almost no overlapping. this was the result of working with the physical materials and realizing that there was still a lot to continue developing in them. first of all, the concreteness and recognizability of the sources became more apparent in the choreography. the work now includes more gestures and concrete imagination. we enriched the movement with an aspect that originally I was a bit cautious about, trying to avoid representation. now I trust that these elements which are somewhat representational (a hand or face gesture, a clear image) we are processing through our bodies in the time of the performance, and working on them with enough sophistication to produce something further than just the imitation of our sources.
also, this evolution of the materials lead to a rethinking of the structures inside the solos. they became less conventional (in november we worked with two very similar build-ups which maybe equalized too much the two solos). and this already generated a different interaction between them, even when the bigger structure seems to be almost the same.
to round it up, I am happy with the direction the work finally took. it felt organic. I feel like I’m learning to recognize what this specific process requires and to follow that logic rather than trying to impose my decisions on it. I think the materials have become more communicative. and though some people might still miss the presence of video and sound, or other elements, I trust this form brings up the sensation that there is something essential in this work. something very precious. however small and difficult and incomplete. and I trust in what this very bare work will produce.