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daily chronicle

Between the human and something else

saturday, 16th Juin

The quality of the presence on stage is one question that contemporary performance, dance and theatre, have been discussing through last century and has became a more important subject since the 70s. This discussion, and the place in which one positions himself in it, is connected with it a political statement, in therms of what society each one defends and what kind of relations between people should be implemented in the core of a given community. 

In 1968, when Yvonne Rainer did her “The mind is a muscle”, where she wrote a manifest against representation, there was a huge system of values, within art but also within the world, that was challenged. With it, was the rejection of the fake, the artificial, the end of separation between what is on the level of the human and what is in higher statute, the extraordinary, virtuosi or the dreamlike. With it came a desire for a society founded in the idea of trust. In this society was no place for tricks, and everything should be accessible to everybody, without hidden moments (no backstage and preparation for the disguise) and, in this way, it aspired for a more equal relation between all citizens. 

In this logic, the art world and the frame of the show, promoting the encounter between public and artists, could be seen as a symbolic representation of the society. It was all about life and human condition. Artists and public could try to be closer to each other, in a more equal relation, and beauty could maybe be found in the most simple and banal gesture, like standing still or simply seating and eating. But then, what Yvonne Rainer was defending was not yet a human quality, it was more a neutral one. It was more the convocation of conscious about the presence of the body of the performer that was there, who should’t pretend to be someone else different from himself. He was not supposed to represent a character but neither represent himself. He was the activation of the conscious of a living body; the articulation of the inner and outer side of a person. 

Things became more personal and intimate in the following decades, and this presence of the performer became more autobiographic. It was not just a living body, but it was the body of a particular person – the performer, who was usually the author – with it’s history, feelings, thoughts, way of moving. There was in this evolution proposed in this text, a search for truth, some kind of truth, and a more human and fair representation of the human being and of the experience of living. And in this search, there was this desire to touch the most deepest and genuine of the human soul and body. There was where beauty resided. 

Time passed on and the truth was never achieved, and in late XXth century and early XXIst, the search went to another level. On one hand, it went from using daily gestures, themes, different bodies representative of various human figures, to the use of real people that were displaced from their real life context to the context of art where they are supposed to be themselves – which brings other questions and problems. On the other hand there was the emergence of integration of all possibilities that was expressed in contemporary theatre and dance with what I call “double exposition” – meaning the unstable but fluid movement of transition between being one self in the performance frame and, after, anulating the performer personality and becoming the representation of a character imagined. This could possibly be seen as the more honest approach to the reality of human condition, of life, and of the possibilities of life within artistic world. Always in transition, unstable, and complex. 

All this is about some of the questions that have been emerging in TryAngle, and the difficult balance between the space of free expression, the liberty to go to a condition of infancy, to be common and banal, but at the same time achieve a quality of embodiment and inscription of the body in a given context with a dominium of the clearness and precision of behaviour and action that brings to the surface of the skin a quality that is the most truly representative of the human.  The question is to be able to get there and how to achieve and activate both commitments to that quality of presence, in the context of an experimentation of somebody else. Being so special and so involved, in a way only performing artists are able to be, in order to enable the emergence of a truth self, whether it is trough representation, whether is through the expression of oneself or both, in the movement of going from one condition to the other.