Riccardo Buscarini : On Gender, Identity and The Seductive Body

Riccardo Buscarini in Blur 
Photo: Elisa D'ErricoRiccardo Buscarini in Blur Photo: Elisa D'Errico

Riccardo Buscarini is a Italian choreographer and dancer based in London. After training at Accademia Domenichino da Piacenza/IT and London Contemporary Dance School. In 2011 he was one of the finalists of The Place Prize and he won the Creatives in Residence award at The Hospital Club, London and Premio Prospettiva Danza 2011 in Padua/IT.
He is one of the artists involved in the European research project Performing Gender.
From December 2011, Riccardo has been teaching Choreography and Performance at Birkbeck University, London.

Here he talks to Gareth about the birth of his new piece ‘Blur’.

Dance, what is it? The body implies mortality, a place for pleasure and pain. The flesh which holds us together is precarious and heavy with agency and self-regard. What is it to be human? And more importantly what makes us ‘not-human’? Boys dance in a darkened room, sweat glistens off their exposed bodies. Music and smoke become costumes for transformation and desire.
The need to shake off invisible constraints becomes a regular ritual. Internal performances in busy clubs and secretive bedrooms, can personal performances be re-presented in a performative space?

It is the perishability of the body that makes dance the total art, the purest of all arts. We don’t need anything to make dance happen, just our bare identity and its inner motion. Movement functions through the body, and the body functions though movement. We need to move to live, and to live in order to move. As simple as that. Dance is close to life in its constant flow and travel through ambiguity and transformation.
What is the border between me moving and dancing? Does performing – or dancing- imply a sort of “standardisation”, “stylisation”, “normativity” in order for us to understand what is really going on? If there’s really something going on apart from ourselves being ourselves… What is the difference between performing and just “being”? Ambiguity is the most powerful tool in theatre and the most dangerous state in our reality. There is always a clear answer to a clear question… But what if there was no clear message to respond to?Not understanding makes us morbidly curious and aggressive at times as we spend most of our lives naming things, actions, behaviours. Do we really have to build a system of meanings – a strict net of intertwined, uncertain, blurry meanings- to be able to orientate ourselves in the meanders of reality? Apparently we do have to do so. This was my territory of inquiry.

The net, the fluid cage, slips and falls. Covers and constrains. A trapping which confines you. A mode of self-regulation in anticipation of punishment and objectification. Where and when was it woven? Do we create our own nets? Or are they woven by tired old hands?

We need a system to regulate ourselves, as we fear ambiguity. We perceive it as chaos, not as an open space full of potential. Whether the weaving hands are old or young, we need to consider our history and the fact that each one of us is in some way conservative. Once a habit is taken, it is hard to leave it behind, especially the more you grow. Each one of us individually weaves a net. We all have our own version of it – what we call society is the mosaic of billions of perspectives.
The net is therefore a very mixed system of control, self-judgement, censorship and yes, punishment… but also a seductive tool, a veil to peak through… a way of being controlled becoming an empowering tool to control the other – the revenge of the objectified. That is how I feel when I am wrapped in it.
It is also a soft, mutable, adaptable second skin, a shifting cover that is able to change shape, slowly evolve, transform. The body and the net are interdependent… One uses the other. They end up being the same thing. What is collectivity without the individual contribution? The biggest political changes lie in the smallest actions. I believe we can transform through time. But only step by step.

The images dance, merge and become unrecognisable. Monstrous beings which live within the real, imaginary and the erotic manifest within the space. Living for the eyes of others? Images moving and static are abundant, lurking in magazines and smiling on T.V screens. Muscles bulge and hair is shaved. Both promising pleasure and authenticity. How are the images born?

Desire is the engine of the world. It is permeated by it. Seduction and attraction are the ways desire is constantly manifested in our society and daily behaviours. Seduction and attraction are responsible for blurring things…. In the same way the net has an impact on my movement and body design during the installation. Blur is a primal cry for help, so, yes, please, look at me. A creature stuck in a net becomes monstrous because of the state it finds itself in. Desire, in both it passive (object) and active (subject) connotations, needs to be let free not to turn into a destructive energy. And it is exactly from this uncomfortable challenge that the performance begins.
As an artist working in the field of contemporary arts, I do believe it is necessary to seek inspiration in our present everyday culture. This is one of the things I am mostly proud of about Performing Gender. The project is extremely connected to the present. Without forgetting we are children of a very specific past.

Violence, beatings, abuse and rape hang over the heads of those who live in the liminal space of what we call Gender. What is seen outside of heteronormativity, lives outside a border. It is regulated and ultimately destroyed. Can these liminal beings ever become free?

Unfortunately we live on a planet where the heterosexual male is the dominant force with its rules as well as its limits.
We are all stuck in the form, in the meaning, in judging. We will feel freer when we will really stop considering difference – or what we do not fully understand – as something dangerous. We are not all the same, thank God. And it is enriching. We would get instantly bored otherwise.
It is out of frustration, restriction, constrain that the monstrous is produced. Yes, our society was built through violence and prevarication. It is down to the younger generations to find a more supple, gentle way of embracing the Other. This will change with time, when people will realise that there are much more important issues than gender and sexuality in the world at the moment.

Acts of gender and sexuality become stylised, the body remembers and a core emerges. It’s concrete, hard-core and engrained within our vibrating bones. Re-affirmed by friends, lovers and parents. Garments become instruments of desire and identity . You dance, battle and unravel for the eyes of others. An undoing in being performed in front of our eyes, a gaze penetrates you. Do you refuse it?

I try to attract it! There is only one reason I do this job: to connect to others. Performing is both an act of love and a game of seduction.

More information on Performing Gender is available here