Friday, October 28, 2011

Dance at SAVVY Contemporary

Dance Performance by Henrik Kaalund and Team
Curators: Cilgia Gadola and Raisa Kröger
1st of October 2011

On Saturday the SAVVY gallery once again animated our weekend in a very intense way. The Finissage of the GhostBusters exhibition was paired with a dance performance. A group of no more than seven dancers choreographed by Henrik Kaalund filled the space of the gallery and made the air vibrate with their energetic movements. The dance was based on the performers' attention and strong physical response to each other and to the change of sound during their action.

The dramaturgy and choreography of the show were very engaging for the public, right from the very beginning: it was fun to watch the dancers change turns in conducting their colleagues' gestures and movements. The dynamics of the whole piece were based on having each dancer enter the role of conductor/leader at one moment and then leaving it for somebody else to take over. It was a game which displayed not necessarily power relations, but rather the tension, alternation and playfulness involved in group communication. There was a particular scene which focused on the group's reactions to specific gestures and to various "leading" temperaments portrayed during the dancing. The public was also invited to join in the game at a certain moment, to become mobile and experience how it is to move according to somebody else's instructions. To read these instructions also.
The performance was funny, involving, sensitive.

During the last part of it recorded sound gave way to live singing, and the voice of a dancer accompanied her colleagues while they were resuming their performance in the narrow corridor. The minimal lightning built a charged and intimate atmosphere: members of the public were handed in a small lantern to hold during the dancing; at specific moments, the dancers who were keeping still would put the spotlight on their performing colleague.

In the context of this performance, contact dancing didn't mean dancers reacting to touch and physical contact only, but also to different kinds of sound. These varied from simple vocal signals that brought in alternation to different rhythms that switched the dancing pace completely. This alternation between soft and sportly, between group- and solo-dances, between speed and slow motion also made us wonder about the secret ingredients of the performance: improvisation and planning. A question we were glad to entertain at Savvy and then take home with us.

Practicing before the dance-performance

Monday, October 24, 2011

Video-sound-voice Performance at SAVVY Contemporary

Balz Isler at the SAVVY Contemporary Gallery
Saturday, the 15th of October 2011
Curators: Cilgia Gadola and Raisa Kröger

The setting was rather pop: a neon light was hanging vertically from the ceiling and resting on the floor. On one wall there's a big poster-like image of the artist himself photographed in front of a photo of some overgrown vegetables (if I got this one right); the artist's eyes are covered by tape, so you can only watch his colourful outfit next to huge tomatoes (or the like). On the opposite wall there is a huge, cheap but golden looking necklace; the pendant has the word "sex" written on it. A glass or plastic frame has been placed in front of the necklace, turning the whole thing into a painting-like object of contemplation. Irony, playfulness, kitsch... you name it!

In the next room a 10 Euro bill has been stuck into the wall. Behind a glass frame, placed on a golden background there is an army suit which bears the labels "facebook" and "twitter" on it. The ghost of a soldier of everyday routine and conquered friendships...

Two small plastic rabbits placed on pedestals (one black and one white) are engaged in conversation.
A white wooden frame houses a small video.

The smallest room in the gallery has the word "Machthaber" (the one who has power) hanging from the ceiling.

This is just to let you picture the setting and my expectations about Balz Isler's performance to come. I thought it's going to be critical, political, kitschy, superficial, even not comprehensible...
I didn't expect it to be poetical and intimate.

Balz Isler stood on a chair in the corner of the room, laptop in his lap. People were sitting on the floor, their gazes pointed towards the screen. He made a short introduction, then proceeded to screen several very short videos. Sound-videos. He superimposed them, layered their images and their sounds on the screen. He sang accompanying the videos (with a high, soft voice from the 80`s), and he accompanied his spoken words with the projection of short word definitions from a dictionary. At the end he literally said "sorry" and "thanks"...
The atmosphere was cosy, with a hint of self consciousness and fun in the background that weren't disturbing.
At a certain moment his singing got accompanied by a woman's voice from the public (his performance partner) and that was, besides his own voice, another live surprise that added warmth to this edited and well-commanded piece of video& sound installation.

The intro I mentioned he made at the beginning brought in the question of genuine experience when you know somebody else has seen or been to the same place as you. Despite this announced danger of not being able to enjoy something on your own because of the influences of previous accounts about "the same" experience, the audience shared the sound of a fire camp
the squeaking of a gate
the rhythm build out of several audio-cuts
an African landscape (that's what it looked like to me)
the flying above ground and the abrupt landing
a beautiful woman talking (maybe a conversation between friends, artists or/and lovers)
and a few more images and sounds...

During the screening the images would travel from the projector, meet the chord of the thin neon in the middle of the room and make it flickr. A bit of a magic was in the air...

Link to savvy contemporary