I’m waking up on a Friday morning and recollections of naked pelvic thrusts come into my mind and I’m still laughing about a piece from The BELLY of The Beast last night, For example, much of the human body. There was a point of no return as my giggle-fit bellowed when watching Else Tunemyr, Tuuli Hynynen and Amanda Prince’s work at play, the performers and makers. They were considering, analysing, interpreting and thinking, through conversation, all in the aim of finding a suitable way to get their point across to their audience in their piece. It was hilarious. I felt the investigation in the moment happening. There was a vigorous chemistry occurring between them. Words and sentences were crossing between them like a game of tennis. I was going with them laugh out loud or silently tracking my/their trains of thought. I was tuning into their tuning in of the moment. I went with them as absurd scenarios emerged and it was all done in quite a calm way, as if they were in an imagined private space. They allowed me to peer in though. I was roaming around in their playing field of conversation and I was disappointed that they had to leave eventually.
A lecture theatre. Three women in conversation. A dialogue around choices of music (or not) and costume (or not). Movement tried out and unfinished. A performance that talks about itself. It feels like familiar post-modern territory. Yet as the conversation continues, a sense of genuine exploration begins to open up. The questions are not new, but there is an authenticity to the discussion that emerges in the way the women’s bodies speak as they rehearse well-worn arguments about, for example, nakedness as costume. I find my eye drawn to the unconscious movements of these speaking bodies – shifts in weight, tics, gestures large and small, from Else blowing out her cheeks in frustration to Tuuli’s repeated twisting of one foot round the other as she stands talking, and the interrupted gestures that accompany their continual attempts to articulate what they are striving towards. Their discussion is punctuated every so often by choreographed movement: fragments that they try out with different music, in their unitards and naked, but never quite resolve. There is a sense of trying to get at something here – and equally for the audience, as we try to get at the choreography, the flesh that might be the subject, and ultimate result, of this discussion.
I cheated – was it cheating? – by seeing the piece twice. Could they re-engage with this process in a reiteration of the performance? The answer was yes and no – while the conversation itself moved on (to a hilarious but also serious discussion on the possibility of ‘non-cultural hair’), the intention of the work became more defined, less open as they specified their aim of presenting a ‘neutral’ human body. Paradoxically, a gap opened up between the ideal they aspired to and the real- here-now bodies on the stage.
Still, I was left with a sense of intrigue, of a yet-to-be-articulated depth underlying the apparently slight premise. What makes this performance more than a piece of self-reflexive cleverness is the sense of a genuine struggle that is still in process as they, and we, leave – the sense that what we have just seen both is, and is not, the piece they are striving to bring into being.
Rachel Gomme makes performance and installation, focusing on the experience of time, memory and shared embodiment, and ranging from durational performance and sound/video installation to delicate one-to-one interactions. Rachel also wrote about Sorbet du Soir.