the power of horror



The power of horror

Text by Claudia Galhós

It could seem an experiment about the most strident approach to the idea of horror. It could have been just a wish to create an intense disturbing situation to shake and scare people, which would take the risk of resulting precisely in the opposite of some of the most essential and honest principals of contemporary performance art: that if it wants to be provocative or excessive or extravagant, it should have some substance and reason of assuming that form behind the surface of what it might seem to be in a superficial level. So, even if classic or just terrible horror movies came into the discussion about what Linda Blomqvist is searching in this project, it is a question that goes beyond the universe of horror movies. And that was evident immediately in the first days of debate, participated by Thomas Fourneau, Emmi Venna and Polina Akhmetzyanova.

Connected with the idea of horror, according to Linda´s perspective, is the idea of fear. And one of the aspects that mark this century is the change of the relation with the idea of fear, or threat, at an individual and collective level. 

The 9/11/2001 attack in New York inaugurates a completely different relation with terror, that cannot be disconnected with the feeling of fear, insecurity, of living in constant threat. This adds another level to the already natural fragility of human life, that had one other impulse of intensification in the 20th century technological development and the emergence of a society that is organised in a way that constitutes a constant menace to individuals – this is what philosopher Lars Svendsen talks about in the book “A Philosophy of Fear“, exposing modern life as a constant experience of the emotion of fear, expressed in the relation people have with tecnologies, the theat of the big brother, always being under surveillance, the desperate acts of protection…

At the end of the first decade of XXI century, another level is added to the experience of fear. A disbelief of the possibility of a future is invading the bodies and the minds of people and generations in singular way. It is hard, as never was, to persist in the conviction of the possibility of dreaming a better life, for themselves and for their children – future generations. In this sense, Convento da Saudação seems like a parallel reality, where precisely reality is interrupted and the possibility of dream inhabits here. It inhabits even in the dark areas in ruin of this ancient convent, where precisely Linda is these days working on her “The power of monster” project…

And all these aspects, and others, were touched, even if only gently, in the discussions the group had. Like this small fragment extracted from the conversation:

Linda: I would like to work in the dark. I am interested in exploring what happens sight and vision are taken away, and what kind of images you get in those circumstances. If we don´t know what is there, maybe we will be able to imagine what is there. It may amplify imagination. I also would like to feed our imagination with sensorial stimulated information, like different textures… 

Thomas: You also talked about fear. There are a lot of possible meanings for horror… For me it has to do with how to feed the imagination of somebody else, how to transmit the sensation of fear? But in practical terms, how can we research this? 

Linda: Maybe it might be interesting to experience by ourselves. To search what is fear to us. To ask: what are we afraid of? How do we experience darkness? And how does that change the space or the perception of space? Or even how it can change a person? How going through the experience of fear can change oneself? Because it is strange but it can be a very a natural phenomenon, like the sunrise and the sunset. Is a natural phenomenon but has a huge impact on us…

Emmi – For me there are three aspects that I have been thinking about. For example one is experimenting some kind of deprivation. I am talking about these meditation rituals and practices that exist in some faiths, where people go into a very small room in total darkness and without any sound and through that they start having visions. Maybe it is not so literally direct to horror; but at the same time it is in some way… I was also thinking that it could be interesting to map the fears we have in our body in a body…

And this was just the beginning of the research…