about

(2010-2011 research disappear)

choreographer Pablo Fontdevila works on the subject of forced disappearance of people during Argentina’s last dictatorship. Two solos are created in parallel processes, each of them built on a very specific concept related to the subject.

During the performance the 2 solos alternate and overlap, eventually starting to interfere with each other both by creating a context and by leaving traces in the space – images, movements, sounds. Each solo appears and disappears. Each solo co-habits the space with the absence of the other solo and performer. The work in solos intensifies the atmosphere of the subject of forced disappearance of people, an atmosphere marked by the solitude and isolation of the disappeared (los Desaparecidos).

. Solo #1 – Ingrid Berger Myhre

People who escaped (or the rare cases of people released from) the Illegal Detention Centres gave testimonies in which the centres were sketched by an architect. When the Commission on the Disappearance of People (CONADEP) visited those centres in democratic times, they were stunned by the precision of the sketches.

People had been blindfolded for months and had suffered all kinds of disorientation strategies (beatings, shouting and noises, unnecessary detours, blindfolds, incommunication, etc) on every situation of movement (starting from the very kidnapping, but also while being taken to a torture room, going to the toilets, being relocated from one centre to another). And yet over time they had managed to recognize patterns, sounds, distances. Some of the visits to the Centres included survivors who would surprisingly claim for a missing door leading to a staircase (eventually found behind a recently built wall) or recognize a torture room that had been completely cleaned up.

In the first solo the performer approaches these spaces (the Illegal Detention Centres) by mapping them physically, to eventually re-act them in (or bring them into) the basic thing that is shared with the audience: this space, the space of the theatre.

This is done by working with pictures, sketches, descriptions and other documentation. Through the mapping of the architecture the performer engages also with the embodiment of many memories through the memory of space. A body mapping the space (not only visually but also through proprioception, audition, touch) as a way to map its affects.

. Solo #2 – William Collins

A series of photos are chosen for their connection to the subject. They are all photos of singular bodies or group photos where bodies are looked at individually. The photos share a certain atmosphere and universe of associations.

The performer reproduces the postures of the images and embodies (and loads the images with) the atmosphere of the series. The performer moves passing through the postures, creating a texture of movement where also other images start emerging and proliferating.

the piece.

Why engage with the subject? Even now, in 2010, it stays a polemic issue in Argentinean political debate. The diverse political circumstances we lived in these 27 years of Democracy have demanded and allowed for very different ways of dealing with that heavy inheritance.

The history of the National Reorganization Process (such was the self-given name of the Dictatorship) is a history I did not live, and yet it feels almost embedded in my body. Like many others, I cannot read an article in the newspapers about it without feeling that I might burst into tears. Like many other Argentineans, I think these events can’t be forgotten or forgiven. I share the idea that Memory is at the base of social growth, and that the risk of certain things being repeated needs to be watched for. This Memory is an essential tool of our political judgement, and it touches upon issues as contemporary as the debates on security, international relations, foreign debt or the economic model.

Like for many other Argentineans, for me the word Disappear has lost its innocence. I cannot use it in any context without the resonance of these very specific associations. My fascination with the word comes from knowing that it will be forever loaded.

The word Disappear becomes then the access point for me to explore how my personal life and my identity as an artist connect with my political and historical identity. Sharing my thoughts with a friend and colleague, he proposed an interesting question: can the contemporary body re-enact affectively the historical body?

Project Disappear.

An ongoing artistic frame of work, developed by choreographer Pablo Fontdevila, which consists in engaging with the same questions by using the same starting point in different creative processes, each in a different context – the creation of diverse choreographies (in a broad sense) in collaboration with different artists. The space to continue researching and deepening in specific areas of interest: the word Disappear, the relation between the personal and the political. Engaging repeatedly with the same problem. Starting all over again. And again.

The strategy: to ask the same questions in different cities, with different collaborators, diversifying rehearsal strategies, letting the processes be affected by their surroundings, drawing from each other’s experiences and personal histories, investigating mechanisms of sharing (e.g., revisiting movement material by teaching it to new performers), displacing the choreographic/theatrical materials (to other cities, to other bodies). And, specially, reflecting constantly on the work, constantly in dialogue with other people and with oneself.

The dance pieces created within this project include “Half of the piece about disappearing” (SNDO graduation piece, presented in Melkweg Theatre, Amsterdam and Sophiensaele, Berlin), “La vejez de las paredes…” (commissioned by and created with the Dance Company Chicken Democracy in Mexico D.F., and presented in diverse venues in Mexico, Amsterdam and Berlin), and “Tucumán desaparece”, in which the Contemporary Ballet of the Province of Tucumán, in Argentina, was introduced to the concept and working methodology. The 2 weeks process concluded with 2 performances in Tucumán, Argentina.

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