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Antistatic 99

Boosting performance praxis

Edward Scheer: Antistatic 99

Elements similar to Susan Leigh Foster’s were at work in the set of events comprising Spur in which Tess de Quincey’s Butoh Product #2 - Nerve showed how to stare down a crowded room while text effects splashed around her, courtesy of performance poet Amanda Stewart’s textual montage and projection. In this as in other of Stewart’s works the sounds and images of words are collapsed back on themselves and we have the bare material of language on display. De Quincey worked within a similar paradigm to return the performing body to its being on stage. Standing squarely, facing off the spectators, holding ground until the impulse to move took over…a more powerful performance presence is hard to imagine and even without locomotive movement the pulses of the body’s capacities for movement are in evidence. Jeff Stein and Oren Ambarchi’s Aphikoman re-staged the audience/performer dynamic with a dada style theft of the performative moment. Hidden beneath the seating Stein stole personal objects, then dumped them on the stage forcing the spectators to leave the darkness and claim their property. This was done with great humour and energy which carried the concept along though there wasn’t much else to experience in this piece.

Alan Schacher’s spasmic movement piece came with an industrial noise sound track by Rik Rue. This was not a harmonious technoshamanic ritual but a pulverising attack on the body. Schacher’s body duly sought out dark spaces as if to hide from the technoscape which threatened it and emerged into the light only to express its crisis. This was a strong and unsettling piece which again revealed the capacities of body, light, sound to sustain an audience’s interest without the supplementation of excess effects. Yumi Umiumare and Tony Yap provided an antidote to the harshness of the Schacher/Rik Rue collaboration in a lucid and meditative dance in the TPS studio space. Commencing in a chair seated on top of one another the pair slowly extended past the flickering laser beam guarding their resting place and into the audience. Yumi’s laughter caught me by surprise but suggested that the human core in this work was at peace with itself. I noticed something I had missed in their earlier work which is that these 2 can control their movements and lyricise them at the same time in breathtakingly subtle ways.

Stuart Lynch closed the night with the equally breathtaking but totally unsubtle Without Nostalgia, a virtuoso piece staging, among other things, his concern with TBS (Total Body Speed) as the centre of the actions which determine his performance work. The notion comes from his connection (through De Quincey) with Mai Juku in Japan but also reflects the emphasis on speed in contemporary considerations of bodies (Deleuze) and culture (Virilio). It is spectacular to witness an artist engaging at this level with current theoretical debates in media and performance studies. I hope we get to see this piece in another context as it is packed with ideas that only a repeat viewing could adequately process. In a way this piece represents the opposite of Foster as a conceptual interrogation of cultural forms through movement and image rather than through text combining with gesture. Both are hybrid forms with a different emphasis but you wouldn’t want to do without either of them. The praxis of performance, which ever way you receive it, got a real boost from these events.

Spur: Tess De Quincey, Butoh Product #2 - ‘Nerve’; Stuart Lynch, Without Nostalgia; Alan Schacher with Rik Rue, Kunstwerk (Trace Elements/Residual Effects - part 3; Jeff Stein with Oren Ambarchi, Aphikoman; Yumi Umiumare & Tony Yap, How could you even begin to understand? Version 2, Antistatic, The Performance Space, April 4

RealTime issue #31 June-July 1999 pg. 11

© Ed Scheer; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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