I wrote an article for the art magasine AF ART nr. 8, published February 2019.
See more about the magasine here.
Extract from the article:
"We try out the scene in rehearsal: Photo lights left and right. In front of a white backdrop Alan is on his knees, wearing a black veil. Jemima stands to his side, an arm stretched out towards his head, pointing a plastic nerf gun. Mal and I are behind a pretend camera, instructing them to start. The tone of the dialogue is light, like it’s a “creative” shoot for an advert for TV. We shout: “Rolling. Action!” Jemima fires the gun. Alan hesitates for too long, turn his head to look at her and then falls to the ground. It’s extremely funnyand I start laughing. It’s funny partly because it’s so wrong that it’s funny. Mal shouts: “Cut!” I say: “Let’s try that again.” This time Alan falls ‘correctly’ and it looks real, despite the fact that he is shot with a plastic gun. The mood changes in seconds. We congratulate each other for the good work. We move the equipment, brushing the situation away.
The scene works. Why? I ask myself. Because it’s confusing. Opposing emotions are at play at the same time. There is level of hilarity, an almost buffoon-like behaviour in a moment where one would normally expect a high level of seriousness.
When we perform the execution in front of an audience, which happens several times during the show, there are often several bursts of laughter in the audience. Others are horrified. The atmosphere is tense and conjures mixed emotions. In her essay What’s so funny? Laughter and anger in the times of assassins, the choreographer Yvonne Rainer talks about paradoxical laughter, as “an exaggerated expression of humour which is unwarranted by external events. It may be uncontrollable laughter which may be recognised as inappropriate by the person involved…(it) is indicative of an unstable mood (…) which can quickly change to anger and back again, on minor external cues” and continues: “How else can you, we, discuss this fucked up world if not with the help of humour? Humour as a weapon of caustic criticism...Humour in this case is not 'ha-ha' funny, it's about consciousness, it's about communicating something serious through light means... It explains that art-making is an antidote to and a way to revolt against the deadly effects of anger in a state of not doing.” I believe the response of laughter carves out a moment that somehow stops time and allows for everyone involved, performers as well as audience, to look at themselves from the outside. Perhaps the moment illustrates that the execution scene is actually as absurd and silly as the video is in real life: People in the show business of politics, staging a scene of the most horrible act one can imagine. To allow laughter is perhaps to allow criticism to seep in from another angle than expected. It became a tool we didn’t know we had."
workshop: something from nothing: a performance composition workshop | 5&6 July | Chisenhale Dance Space